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WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. If the gentleman would yield, the point you are making can't be stressed enough. There are countless individuals in this country, countless people. We are talking about people. The 46 million, when you talk about the 46 million that are not insured, it is very easy to glaze over and think about them as an amorphous blob rather than 46 million human beings.
One of those human beings, like your example, the
person who went through gallbladder cancer, was a woman who came into my office a few weeks ago, and she said this to me. She said, I am happy, Debbie, that you survived, that you got through your breast cancer. You were very fortunate when you were diagnosed. The only thing you had to think about was fighting your cancer.
A day after she was diagnosed for the third time, she lost her job, and then she lost as a result her insurance. So at the same time as getting a third diagnosis of breast cancer, she also had to battle for coverage and has not been able to get the access to care that she should have been able to get. That happens to breast cancer survivors and people who are victims of disease every single day in this country because their insurance is tied to their job. If they don't have a job, very often they don't have insurance and they can't get insurance. That is just, in this country, in the wealthiest country in the world, in the country that people always throw around the comment, we have the best health care in the world, no, we don't. We are 29th in infant mortality, and 37th in life expectancy. The statistics that Americans are dealing with in terms of their likely survival and their health is just abominable, because we have a sick-care system, like the gentleman from Ohio said, not a preventative-based system, not a well system.
I yield to my friend.
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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Well, you're absolutely right. As we came out of the ``August of fear'' and were progressing through the fall, every day that goes by, with every passing day--add the bogus report that was released by AHIP, the Association of Health Insurance Plans of America, that tried to scare seniors and scare people into believing that their costs were going to go up and that government was trying to take over their health care. As Mr. Sarbanes alluded to, forgive us if we don't trust the health insurance industry to do the right thing on their own; they've had many, many years to do that. For at least some of this debate they have been helpful--or at least not obstacles, which is progress. And we will hitch our star to any progress that we can make when it comes to expanding access to health care and making sure we can cover everybody.
But at the end of the day, the fearmongering isn't working anymore. I mean, opponents of reform were singularly focused on scaring seniors, on scaring people into believing that the health coverage that they had now was going away, that they weren't going to be able to get access to quality health care, that somehow we were going to begin rationing. And you know what? The American people see through that. They can see the transparent attempt to derail reform because their real priority is politics. Their real priority is that they are unhappy that they are not in power, they have been disrobed, revealed to be essentially the frauds that they are because they say now that they want reform, but they had 12 years, 12 years that they ran this place--they were in charge for 12 years and they did nothing. They controlled everything and they did nothing about health care reform.
So that is why the American people are not responding to their distortions and their exaggerations and their fearmongering. The American people have had it, and they want health care reform.
I yield to the gentleman from Connecticut.
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