11:44 AM EST

Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD

Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I would like to speak on health care. I note with interest the remarks of the Senator from Tennessee. I think there is former bipartisan agreement, but everybody says let's go through this step by step. The Congress has had an extensive health care debate. We in the HELP Committee have had extensive hearings, and we had a markup of our bill that lasted more than 3 weeks and had over 350 amendments, of which 75 percent were offered by the other side. We offered many

of those amendments. When all was said and done, they voted no. So we don't know when good would be good enough. It is one thing to disagree on policy; it is another thing to want to do a filibuster by proxy, which is what we encountered in the committees with the increased volume of amendments.

We need health care reform, and we need it now. We need it in a way that accomplishes the goal of saving lives, improving lives and, at the same time, controlling costs.

No. 1, I think we all agree, we need to save and stabilize Medicare. The other thing we need to do is end the punitive practices of insurance companies.

I am going to tell you a bone-chilling story. I held a hearing in the HELP Committee on how health insurance in the private sector treats women. First, we pay more and get less benefits. But also what happened and what emerged is that a woman who applied for health care who had a C-section was denied by a Minnesota company unless she got a sterilization.

Did you hear what I said? An insurance company told an American woman, to get health insurance, she had to have a sterilization. Is this fascist China, fascist Germany? Is this Communist China? This is the United States of America. We were outraged.

I have been in touch with this insurance company. I got lipservice promises, blow-off letters from their lawyers, and stuff like that. I am ready with an amendment on the floor. We have to get rid of these punitive practices of denying health care on the basis of a previous condition. And then, not only doing that because of a C-section, but then to engage in a coercive way to force a sterilization.

So you think I want reform? You better believe I do. And I think I speak for the majority of the country who feels this way and the good men, such as the Presiding Officer, who will support us on it. I will have an amendment to deal with this if the insurance company continues to blow me off.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.