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Voila! Health Care Problem "Solved"

As the Democratic and Republican candidates debate their respective health care plans, a U.S. Census Bureau report on poverty released Tuesday contained some mildly optimistic news about health coverage in the U.S. in 2007, when the number of people lacking health insurance dropped for the first time since President Bush took office.

The Census Bureau said 45.7 million people - 15.3 percent of the population - were uninsured in 2007; that's down from 47 million in 2006. Most of the increase in people with insurance coverage was due to government health insurance coverage, with little change in the number of those covered by private health insurance.

In Texas, about one of every four residents (24.8 percent) were uninsured in 2006-2007.

But according to an advisor of Sen. John McCain who helped craft the Republican candidate's health care policy, those numbers are misleading.

In fact, says John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, the number of uninsured Americans is basically zero, since anyone who can get to a hospital emergency room can get medical attention, with the government footing the bill.

Goodman told Jason Roberson of the Dallas Morning News that the problem is one of semantics.

"So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said.

"The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.

"So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."

Goodman, who served as an unpaid advisor to the McCain campaign, posts a blog about health care issues on the Web site of the conservative Dallas-based think tank.

For the record, McCain's health care plan does focus on tax code reform to try to expand consumer choices beyond typical employer-based insurance coverage and government-sponsored insurance like Medicaid, rather than simply re-label people.