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Murray Highlights Benefits of Health Insurance Reform for Women in Speech on Senate Floor

Oct 08 2009

Murray Tells story of Seattle family who lost their mother after she lost her insurance

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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate highlighting why health insurance reform is so important for Washington state women. Murray told the story of a young man she met named Marcelas Owens, whose mother got sick, lost her job, lost her health insurance, and then lost her life.


Key excerpts:

“Because when the rising cost of health insurance hurts women, it hurts our nation. And for the millions of women across America who open the mail each month to see premiums go up, who can’t get needed preventative care like mammograms because the co-pays are too much, who work part time or for a small business that doesn’t provide insurance, who can’t get covered for critical pre-natal care, or who are forced to stay in an abusive relationship because if they leave, their sick child will lose health care coverage We are their voice.”

“Our health care system is broken.   It’s broken for moms like Tifanny who work to provide for their families and are charged nearly 50 percent more than men for health care in the individual market. It’s broken for women who are denied coverage or charged more for ‘Pre-Existing Conditions’ like pregnancy, C-sections, or domestic violence.And it’s broken for their families and for little boys like Marcelas who can never get back what they have lost.”

“Enough is enough.   The time is now.   The status quo isn’t working. For women across this country and for their families, our businesses and our nation’s future strength, we have to get this right.   We have to remember their stories and be their voices.  We have to reform health insurance for our health and our future.”

The full speech follow:

“Mr. President, first I want to thank my colleagues for their time this morning.  

“Because when the rising cost of health insurance hurts women, it hurts our nation.

“And for the millions of women across America who open the mail each month to see premiums go up, who can’t get needed preventative care like mammograms because the co-pays are too much, who work part time or for a small business that doesn’t provide insurance, who can’t get covered for critical pre-natal care, or who are forced to stay in an abusive relationship because if they leave, their sick child will lose health care coverage

“We are their voice.

“Mr. President, I can remember a similar debate on this floor almost 16 years ago. Senators in this Chamber were debating legislation that would allow 35 million Americans to care for a newborn, or a sick child, a parent or a spouse without the fear of losing their jobs.

“I told a story of a woman I knew from Washington state whose child was sick.   And who couldn’t take the time off of work to care for him without losing her income and the insurance that was covering him.

“At the time, Mr. President, I was a new member of the Senate.  And I can remember a Senator coming up to me and telling me that we weren’t supposed to tell personal stories here on the Senate floor.

“Well, Mr. President, that’s what I came here to do.   To tell the stories of all of those women - and men - who deserve a voice in our nation’s capitol.  

“And those stories did impact the debate back in 1993 when we passed the Family and Medical Leave Act. And they have the power to impact the health care debate in our nation’s capitol today.

“Mr. President, back then I told the story of a woman whose child was sick.

“Today, I am here to tell my colleagues the story of a little boy named Marcelas Owens whose mom got sick.

“I met Marcelas in June at a health care rally in Seattle.   He’s just ten years old, but he and his two younger siblings have already been through a lot.

“Two years ago, their mother, Tifanny, lost her life because she was uninsured.  She was only 27 years old.

Mr. President, Tifanny was a single mom who felt strongly about working to support her family.

“She worked as an assistant manager at a fast food restaurant.  She had health care coverage through her job.  But in September 2006, she got sick.  During this time, Tifanny missed a lot of work. 

“Her employer gave her an ultimatum:  Make up the lost time, or lose your job. Well, because she was so sick, she physically couldn’t make up the time and Tifanny did lose her job.

“When she lost her job, she lost her insurance.   And without coverage and the care she needed, in June of 2007, Tifanny lost her life.  And Marcelas and his two siblings lost their mom.

“Mr. President, our health care system is broken.   It’s broken for moms like Tifanny who work to provide for their families and are charged nearly 50 percent more than men for health care in the individual market.

“It’s broken for women who are denied coverage or charged more for ‘Pre-Existing Conditions’ like pregnancy, C-sections, or domestic violence.

“And it’s broken for their families and for little boys like Marcelas who can never get back what they have lost.

“Mr. President, enough is enough.   The time is now.   The status quo isn’t working. For women across this country and for their families, our businesses and our nation’s future strength, we have to get this right.  

“We have to remember their stories and be their voices.  We have to reform health insurance for our health and our future.

“Thank you, Mr. President, I yield the floor.”