“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”
These words have been used a lot over the past few weeks as the nation remembers Senator Edward Kennedy. Indeed, they are of particular relevance when considering the issue of health care reform and its impact on the millennial generation. Many critics have said lately that my generation has gone AWOL from this battle. Well consider this is a plea to my generation to get back into the fight.
The millennial generation is the largest uninsured demographic in America, with only 1 in 3 living with health insurance. In 2007 approximately 13.2 million young people were uninsured. Young people are especially vulnerable to the rising costs of health care. The price tag of individual health coverage, which is expected to reach over $16,000 in 2040, is already sprinting past $5,000 annually. More and more young people are incapable of purchasing even the most basic coverage plan. This leads to a higher rate of worker absenteeism due to preventable illnesses, which in turn decreases production and results in poorer economic performance. So why pass comprehensive reform? As James Carville once so succinctly put it, “It’s the economy, stupid!”
Health care reform is the single most important issue that faces the millennial generation. Too often the millennial generation walks around feeling young and indestructible, and not interested in old people issues. This is an attitude that we must correct before someone gets hurt. Health Care Reform was the dream and the life mission of the late Senator Kennedy. He might have passed the torch, but now we must be the ones who carry it across the finish line. If we truly are the next generation of American leaders, we must show that we are as passionate as Senator Kennedy was regarding this issue. If we do not act now, millions of our young brothers and sisters face the risk of getting sick and without proper health care coverage someone is going to get hurt or possibly die.
I encourage all millennials to make sure you voice is heard in this fight. Contact your elected representatives and make sure that they know just how important Health Care is to you. Attend Health Care Reform rallies to show you support this issue. Go to a Health Care Town Hall and participate in the debate. Just because we were the driving force behind the election of President Barack Obama does not mean the work stops there. We must support the President efforts to continue the cause of Senator Kennedy life. It is up to us to insure that the dream lives on.
Matthew Silverstein is 27 years old and is the President of the New York State Young Democrats, an organization which represents identified Democrats from ages 16-36 throughout the State of New York.