HEALTH CARE REFORM -- (Senate - October 08, 2009)
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Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I thank our leader, the Senator from Maryland, BARBARA MIKULSKI, for organizing this effort on the Senate floor this morning. I am pleased to join my sisters and colleagues in the Senate this morning to raise some specific and important issues relative to this reform debate that is moving forward. They are important facts as we press forward with our reforms.
I would like to begin, just briefly, with reminding all of us that we began--as the President called for us to do--to focus on health care reform and to reduce cost--cost to our Nation, cost to our States, cost to individual businesses as they continue to see these premiums skyrocketing beyond their ability to either afford or to control, and cost to individuals.
The Baucus mark in the Senate Finance Committee, which is pending, goes a significant step forward in terms of the cost issue. That is very encouraging to those of us who believe that health care reform is essential for several reasons. But one of the important reasons is to get cost under control and to begin to help balance the Federal budget and get us back on a sure financial footing, which--as has been stated by many experts, Mr. President--is impossible without fundamental insurance reform. So that is point 1.
Point 2, the benefit of moving forward with reform will significantly improve outcomes for women, as the Senator from California, Mrs. Boxer, stated. It is going to help all Americans, but it is going to be particularly helpful for women of childbearing age, who are often discriminated against with insurance rates because they have to see doctors more often just by the very nature of pregnancy and the care they require. Because they have to see their doctors more often, their insurance is sometimes significantly higher.
In fact, the records show that the cost of an insurance plan for a 40-year-old woman can be up to 38 percent more than a 40-year-old man in the same circumstance--same health, same geographic location. Our reform efforts will eliminate that bias and make health care more affordable for everyone but particularly for women.
I wanted to take my last minute to talk about a letter I received from Denelle Walker, a 25-year-old woman living in Baton Rouge, who just graduated from school and went on to get a job.
Mr. President, 20 percent of Denelle's modest paycheck--20 percent--is going toward insurance. This bill will help young women such as Denelle, middle-aged women, and older women on the issue of affordability.
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