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Tom Harkin, D-IA
Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I will have more to say about this later. But there has been so much talk about fear, fear, fear. Everybody has a fear. Let's get away from that. It is time to quit talking about fear. Let's talk about hope. Let's talk about the realities of [Page: S12529]
what is affecting people out there, what we are trying to do to make their lives better. Why do we always want to inject fear into people? Let's talk about hope. Let's talk about real
people and what this bill does.
As shown in this picture, this is Sarah Posekany of Cedar Falls, IA. Let me tell you her story. It is incredible. She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when she was 15 years old. During her first year in college, she ran into complications from the disease and had to drop classes. Because she was no longer a full-time student, her parents' private health insurance company terminated her coverage. Then the medical bills piled up. Four years later, she found herself $180,000 in debt, and was forced
to file for bankruptcy.
Sarah has undergone seven surgeries--seven. Here is what is disturbing. Two of those came as a direct result of not being able to afford medication. So again, it is an incredible story, but it is a true story.
So many people have to go through this. Our bill says: Look, you can stay on your parents' coverage until you are age 26, and--guess what--no preexisting conditions will apply to you from here on out. Think about Sarah when we are talking about this bill and the hope she needs--and so many like her--that we are going to change this system to make her life better.
Second, this is a picture of Tasha Hudson of Des Moines, IA. She is a single mother, with three kids. She had a job which provided health insurance, but she took a new job that paid her more, 50 percent more. You would think: Isn't that the American way? You learn, you get better, you get a better paying job. The problem is, the private sector job did not come with health insurance. Despite the higher pay, she could not afford the coverage.
Ironically, her higher pay led to cuts in her Medicaid benefits and the loss of childcare services. As a result, Tasha is now in the process of returning to a lower paying job, despite its limited opportunities, for one reason: because it will provide health insurance for her family.
These are real people. These are the people to whom we need to give hope.
Here is one last one. Eleanor Pierce lives in Cedar Falls, IA. She lost her job when her company was eliminated. She had the option of purchasing COBRA, but she couldn't afford it. So she searched for coverage, but because of high blood pressure--preexisting condition--she was denied access. So age 62, suffering from high blood pressure, she had no choice but to go without insurance.
That is why we need this bill. Not for fear--let's quit talking about fear. Let's talk about hope for the people I just talked about, the hope that their lives will be better, that they will get the insurance coverage they need, that they will be able to get on with their lives and not have to go so far in debt that they have to go into bankruptcy.
If you are a 62-year-old woman with a serious heart condition such as the one Eleanor has, high blood pressure, you just don't have a prayer, you are on your own, and the odds of premature death are disturbingly high. We can and must do better. That is what we ought to be talking about: hope for the future, not fear.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.