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AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: Murray Outlines Success Stories of State Health Care Marketplace

Feb 27 2014

Sen. Murray shares often overshadowed success stories of constituents from Seattle and Bellingham



More than 4 million Americans and more than 400,000 Washingtonians have signed up coverage through the new Marketplaces

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered a speech on the Senate floor highlighting the success of the Affordable Care Act, focusing on her home state Marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder, where over 400,000 Washingtonians have accessed free or low-cost health insurance coverage. Senator Murray shared stories she has heard from a Reverend in Seattle and a husband and wife in Bellingham, all of whom have benefitted from finding affordable, quality health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder.

“Today I only told the stories of three people who are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act.  They’re only three people among more than 400,000 others in Washington state who have also signed up for care through the exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder,” Senator Murray said “And they’re only three people among the 4 million people that have signed up across the country. And for the most part, their stories aren’t unique.  Millions of other Americans face the same kind of health problems they do. It’s time we stop ignoring that reality. It’s time to do our jobs and help our constituents get the health coverage they deserve.”

March 31st, 2014 is the final day for open enrollment, but don’t wait until the last minute to sign up. For more information on Washington Health Benefit Exchange, and enrollment events check out: Community Events.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:

“I’d like to speak today about some people in my home state of Washington whose lives have been changed by the Affordable Care Act, people whose stories have too often been ignored in the daily back and forth here in Washington D.C.

“I know several of my colleagues are here today to do the same, but before I start, I’d like to invite some of my Republican colleagues to turn off FOX News, turn off Rush Limbaugh and listen to real-life stories of real-life Americans impacted by this law.

“I also encourage them to listen to some of the men and women in their own states, because the stories I’ve heard are not unique.

“Madam President, another person I’ve heard from whose life was changed by the Affordable Care Act is a man named Don Davis.

“Don is 59 years old, and he also goes by Reverend Don.  He’s a pastor in Seattle, and he’s also a volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club.

“And as the pastor of his church, he doesn’t receive health care through his job – he doesn’t even receive a salary.

“That also meant, for a long time, that Reverend Don didn’t have health insurance.

“So when he was hospitalized in 2008 for severe headaches, he was only able to receive an MRI through charity care.

“Madam President, that MRI showed that Reverend Don had several brain tumors, but when the doctors wanted to do more testing and provide more care, he didn’t have the insurance to pay for it.

“This is a man who asked for nothing in life – and still woke up every day willing to give to others…but he couldn’t get the basic care he needed when he was sick.

“Now, Reverend Don is healthy today. He’s serving his community, and because of the Affordable Care Act, he also has health insurance.

“He signed up with a navigator at the local YWCA, and now, if he gets a headache, he can afford to go to the doctor.

“So Madam President, because of the Affordable Care Act, Reverend Don can afford to dedicate his life to people in his community, and he doesn’t need to worry that the costs of the care he needs could kill him.

The full text of Senator Murray’s remarks, as prepared:

“Madam President, I’d like to take some time today to talk about a law this chamber passed back in 2009.

“But first, I’d also like to discuss what it means to serve in this body, what our responsibilities are, and why our constituents sent us here in the first place.      

“Madam President, I have served in the Senate for more than 20 years now, and I’ve seen my share of controversial legislation.

“I’ve seen Democratic bills that Republicans couldn’t stand.

“I’ve seen Republican bills that Democrats would never vote for.

“And I’ve seen bills that pretty much everyone opposed.

“But what I’ve seen in the last four years, since the Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and signed by the President, is something new altogether.

“Since the day it passed, I’ve seen some of my Republican colleagues set reason, and their basic duties as public officials, completely aside. 

“All in opposition of a law that means millions of Americans have access to affordable, quality health insurance they couldn’t get before,

“A law that means millions of young people – many of them fresh out of college – are able to stay on their families’ insurance plans.

“A law that says it is illegal for insurance companies to charge you more money just for being a woman.

“A law that has provided millions of Americans with access to free preventive screenings and health care like colonoscopies, mammograms, and flu shots.

“And a law that says if you’re an American and you have a pre-existing condition, it’s illegal for an insurance company to turn you away.

“Since 2009, I’ve seen some of my colleagues - smart, reasonable men and women, and good representatives for their state – simply refuse to acknowledge the facts about the law…

“I’ve watched them turn a blind eye, time and again, to the stories of people in their own states whose lives have been changed by the Affordable Care Act, and others who need help to access its benefits.

“Some of my colleagues have even passed laws that make it harder to get covered under the Affordable Care Act, and Madam President, that’s just not what we were sent to Congress to do.

“As public servants, it’s our job to help our constituents access the federal benefits available to them – particularly when it comes to health care.

“That might mean putting them in touch with a Navigator to ensure they are getting the most affordable health insurance plan or making them aware of an enrollment event where they can get covered. 

“But our responsibilities don’t end there.

“It’s our job to have an open, honest discussion about what the Affordable Care Act means for our constituents, and to talk about ways to improve it.

“Instead, some of my colleagues have spent the better part of four years trying to turn this law into a boogeyman, and trying to score cheap political points on an issue that can literally mean the difference between life and death.

“Madam President, I can understand why some of my colleagues disagree with certain parts of this law.

“But what I can’t understand is why anyone elected to Congress would decide to simply ignore real-life stories of their own constituents whose lives were changed the day this law took effect.

“I can’t understand why anyone would ignore an opportunity to make this law better.

“Because Madam President – that’s not why we were sent here.

“We were sent here to listen to our constituents and fight to ensure our laws work for them.

“So Madam President, I’d like to speak today about some people in my home state of Washington whose lives have been changed by the Affordable Care Act, people whose stories have too often been ignored in the daily back and forth here in Washington D.C.

“I know several of my colleagues are here today to do the same, but before I start, I’d like to invite some of my Republican colleagues to turn off FOX News, turn off Rush Limbaugh and listen to real-life stories of real-life Americans impacted by this law.

“I also encourage them to listen to some of the men and women in their own states, because the stories I’ve heard are not unique.

“Madam President, I’ll start with the story of Susan Wellman from Bellingham, Washington.

“Because Susan is self-employed, she has had to pay for individual insurance, and every year, she’s watched her health care costs rise higher and higher.

“It got to the point where she was paying $300 monthly premiums, with an $8000 deductible, all for a plan she described as “paying for nothing.”

“So, as soon as Susan could access health care through the Washington state exchange, she jumped at the chance.

“Susan spoke on the phone with real, live person, and she was able to sign up for an affordable plan in a matter of minutes.

“Now, Susan is on a plan that costs her $125 a month, instead of $300.

“It’s a plan that has a $2000 deductible that she says actually pays for things.

“And guess what? She can afford to go to the doctor.

“Not just in the case of an emergency, but for a physical or a mammogram that could save her life, not to mention thousands and thousands of dollars in health care costs.

“That kind of preventive care is good for Susan. It’s good for her family.  And it’s also good for this country, because when more people have access to preventive care, it makes health care cheaper for every single one of us.

“Madam President, another person I’ve heard from whose life was changed by the Affordable Care Act is a man named Don Davis.

“Don is 59 years old, and he also goes by Reverend Don.  He’s a pastor in Seattle, and he’s also a volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club.

“And as the pastor of his church, he doesn’t receive health care through his job – he doesn’t even receive a salary.

“That also meant, for a long time, that Reverend Don didn’t have health insurance.

“So when he was hospitalized in 2008 for severe headaches, he was only able to receive an MRI through charity care.

“Madam President, that MRI showed that Reverend Don had several brain tumors, but when the doctors wanted to do more testing and provide more care, he didn’t have the insurance to pay for it.

“This is a man who asked for nothing in life – and still woke up every day willing to give to others…but he couldn’t get the basic care he needed when he was sick.

“Now, Reverend Don is healthy today. He’s serving his community, and because of the Affordable Care Act, he also has health insurance.

“He signed up with a navigator at the local YWCA, and now, if he gets a headache, he can afford to go to the doctor.

“So Madam President, because of the Affordable Care Act, Reverend Don can afford to dedicate his life to people in his community, and he doesn’t need to worry that the costs of the care he needs could kill him.

“Finally, Madam President, I’d like to talk about a couple in Bellingham, Washington, named Rod Burton and Sarah Hill.

“Rod is one of millions of Americans who have had the utterly maddening experience of being denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

“And in Rod’s case, his pre-existing condition was a congenital heart defect.

“Under the old system, Rod was deemed uninsurable by most insurance plans from the moment he was born.

“So Madam President, for a long time, Rod found himself forced into purely catastrophic insurance with a high premium that wouldn’t cover much of anything.

“But that changed with the Affordable Care Act.

“Despite his heart defect, Rod was able to get a plan that covers him and his wife, and they found out they were eligible for tax credits to help pay for it.

“Today both Rod and Sara are covered through a silver plan that has lower premiums than the plan that only covered Rod if the worst happened.

“Madam President – I’m going to yield the floor now so some of my colleagues can tell similar stories of some of their own constituents, but I’d like to note that today I only told the stories of three people who are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act.

“They’re only three people among more than 400,000 others in Washington state who have also signed up for care through the exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder.

“And they’re only three people among the 4 million people that have signed up across the country.

“And for the most part, their stories aren’t unique. 

“Millions of other Americans face the same kind of health problems they do.

“It’s time we stop ignoring that reality.

“It’s time to do our jobs and help our constituents get the health coverage they deserve.

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