In the battle for health care reform, the White House has unleashed its new secret weapon — Michelle Obama! She gave an amazingly inspired speech to the White House Council on Women and Girls last week. The First Lady shared the speaking duties with three women from around the country who shared their stories that proved one of the biggest statements the First Lady made during her remarks — that women are being crushed by the current health system.
Below is the full video that was live-streamed, as well as a link to the text of her remarks:
I know people are concerned or don’t believe the President’s statements that the much-needed changes in our health insurance system can be paid for. I know there’s this whole debate over whether there should be a “public option” for health care and what that would do to the current for-profit system (yeah, the one that’s doing such a great job with our health care), but something has to change.
When women are charged more than men for the same coverage, when women can be denied coverage because pregnancy and domestic violence are considered pre-existing conditions, when women who work hard to care for themselves and their families still have to choose between life-saving screening tests or keeping a roof over their heads, it’s time for a fight.
Is health care a basic human right? And what rights are we, as a country, really concerned with? If we took the money raised by the National Rifle Association in the past year and put it toward health care reform, I dare say we could accomplish a little something — a recent report on Morning Joe on MSNBC suggested it was something in the neighborhood of $300 million.
Is it OK with us that without health care reform, insurance companies will continue to make women pay more for insurance? Is it OK with us that without health care reform, insurance companies can continue to deny women effective preventative and diagnostic care of mammograms and Pap smears? It is OK with us that the woman with lung cancer and breast cancer who sat next to the First Lady can’t afford the necessary screenings so she knows if her cancers come back?
It’s not OK with me. And I wonder — if we took away the great health insurance that Senators and Representatives have and they had to live through the experiences of the women on the dais with Michelle Obama, how would their views on competition and the public option change? I bet they’d find a way pretty quickly to fix our horribly broken system.
We all love our insurance until it comes time for it to cover something big. Just as car insurance companies are notorious for kicking people out after an accident, health insurance companies are happy to have our money and our business until we get sick and they have to pay out. As someone with a few ongoing issues that need monitoring, I’m fearful of what will happen if things stay the same.
We are the face of this fight. And it is a fight. It’s a fight not just with the insurance industry, but it’s also an ideological one — do we want to be the country that realizes the long term benefits of creating a healthier nation or are we going to be the one that says providing health care for everyone who needs it is too much of a burden on a company’s profits?
In the end, this is also a fight to determine what we believe it’s the government’s job to do. I believe there is a role for the government to play, at least in terms of making sure that insurance companies play fairly and don’t let their CEO’s become multi-millionaires at the expense of people’s lives. As for premiums? They keep going up and if health reform legislation fails, you can bet those insurance companies will waste no time hiking them again.