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CNN "Larry King Live" - Transcript


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KING: We have an unusual way to end the show tonight. Coming to us from Washington, D.C., from the United States Capitol Visitor Center, women of the United States Senate. We won't have time in this segment to talk to all of them, but we will talk to Senators Murray, Mikulski, Boxer and Stabenow. All earlier today gave back-to-back speeches on why reforming health insurance is important to women.

All right. First, Senator Murray, why specifically women?

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: We know that every day in this country there are women who are impacted by the fact that health insurance today denies them coverage. If they've had a C-section, if they've been pregnant, if they've been a victim of domestic violence, insurance companies say "sorry, we're not going to cover you."

We want to make sure that in this health care insurance debate that's in front of us, women get equal access to health care coverage. We're the ones who most often take care of our kids and our families, our parents. And we want to make sure this insurance reform passes so that women aren't second-class citizens anymore.

KING: I'm amazed.

Senator Mikulski, why weren't women and these specific women problems -- women's problems not involved in insurance? Why not?

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D) MARYLAND: Well, first of all, it's just part of the whole institutional issues, where just like we didn't get equal pay for equal work, we haven't got equal insurance benefits for equal premiums. One of the things that we women know is -- and are finding out is that we pay more for our premiums and get less.

For example, in most states, a woman who's 25 years old pays almost 48 percent more for her health insurance than a male of the equal status. We want to change that and make sure we get equal benefits.

The other is that the punitive practice of the insurance companies either denying care because of a preexisting condition, which they call pregnancy, domestic violence, even acne in one -- in some situations, preclude us from getting insurance. We want to show the women of America that health insurance reform is a necessity and it is a woman's issue.

We're really proud of the people you just interviewed. They made room for medicine and miracles. But every one of them had access to quality health insurance. We want that for all Americans. And when we get it, we want to pay equal premium for equal benefits for women.

KING: Senator Boxer, many insurance companies -- I'm reading this; it's hard to believe -- don't cover maternity care?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D) CALIFORNIA: Yes. Only 14 states, Larry, is it required that if you want to sell insurance in that state, you must offer pregnancy coverage.

Women are discriminated against. Do you know that the statistics show that 52 percent of women either delay going to the doctor or they avoid going to the doctor because of the cost or because they're not covered or they're fearful?

I have women write to me. It is so heart rendering. They tell me they just pray that they won't get sick. That's it. That's their health care plan, praying that they won't get sick or that they turn 65, so they can get into Medicare.

And we will all tell you that there are more women on Medicare than men. And if we don't have health reform, the senior population, men and women, will not get the care they need, because if we don't fix Medicare, it's going to go broke soon.

So all of that talk about death panels and frightening seniors, it's the opposite. The status quo is frightening. We need to have health reform.

KING: I'm going to ask Dr. Gupta in a minute if he's surprised by all this.

But Senator Stabenow, how would reform legislation that you support -- how would it address specifically the issues?

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D) MICHIGAN: Well, Larry, first of all, we make sure we stop all the bad insurance practices that my friends have been talking about, so that women can get insurance. Pregnancy's not called a preexisting condition, and that women don't get dropped when they need the care that they've been paying for.

We also make sure that in the basic health insurance plan offered to families that maternity coverage is included. We say to Medicare. You know the majority of people on Medicare are women. And we add new preventative care so you can get mammograms without co-pays, get cancer screenings. We add additional help to pay for prescription drugs.

So bottom line is we're going to make health care more affordable. We're going to stop the bad insurance practices and strengthen Medicare. And for us, we know -- we're confronted every day with the fact that 14 million people get up in the morning, got up today with insurance, and will go to bed tonight without it. That is absolutely unacceptable.

KING: I salute you all.

Also on the screen, by the way, but not talking with us, have been Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina. I salute you all.

One quick comment, Sanjay. Are you aware of this?

GUPTA: Well, this whole thing about pregnancy being considered a preexisting condition is kind of outrageous. I mean that's -- I mean women do tend to be the primary health care drivers of families. So if you can't get proper insurance and proper prevention, the whole family suffers.

KING: Thank you all for participating. I salute all of you.

And thank you, Sanjay.

Sanjay's book is "Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that are Saving Lives Against All Odds".

"Anderson Cooper 360" starts right now.

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