U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, Commited To Health Care Insurance Reform, Dispels Misinformation, Highlights Need Through Patients

PolitickerNJ — Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Press Release
By Senator Robert Menendez

TEANECK — Today, U.S Senator Robert Menendez, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, was joined by former insurance executive Wendell Potter and insured families who exemplify so many who have suffered through hours of calls and endless paperwork, uncertainty, and paid thousands in out-of pocket expenses for life-saving treatments during periods of extreme need. The event highlighted the urgent need for health care insurance reform.

“As a member of the committee most central to health insurance reform, I am working to help craft a bill that lets you keep the health insurance you have if you like it, while increasing choice and competition to keep insurers honest,” said Senator Menendez. “Today, I want to focus on the voices that have gotten too little attention this summer. The voices that, for decade after decade, have been evidence of a health insurance system that isn’t good enough for our families or our nation.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who has expressed his support for expanding health insurance options as part of national health care reform, supports including the “public option,” which would make available a health insurance alternative that is currently not available in the private insurance system. Senator Menendez, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which is drafting a significant portion of the system’s reform process, emphasized the importance of this piece of legislation, because it ensures increased access and affordability in the health care system.

In 2006, New Jersey families paid $12,233 a year in insurance premiums and in 2016, if nothing is done will be paying $24,026. During the last two years, 2,383,000 New Jerseyans under age 65 went without health insurance for some time, approximately 32 percent of the under 65 population.

Senator Menendez was joined by 3 families who described their difficulties with their health insurance during the most difficult times of their lives: a time when they were battling illness:

Kia Moore’s 21 month old child needed a kidney transplant after being born with kidney failure. After months of treatment at a Philadelphia hospital and having a scheduled date for the operation, her insurance company told her that her son could only have the operation at three hospitals, none of which performed steroid-free transplants, vital to the child’s growth. It took endless paperwork, calls and investigations to finally get young Xavier the operation he needed.

Eleanor Hahn was a sophomore in high school when she noticed a bump on her arm that was diagnosed as osteosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Her illness necessitated an operation to remove the cancerous bone. Many of the costs for her surgery and ensuing care were not paid for by the insurance company. Eleanor who for months needed chemotherapy, could not take needed anti nausea medication, because the pills were too costly and not covered by insurance outside of the hospital setting.

Joyce Parseghian (deceased) blacked out while driving. During the series of medical examinations that later diagnosed her problem as a brain tumor – specifically, central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma, she changed insurance companies She required immediate chemotherapy followed by radiation treatments. Without treatment, her doctors predicted she would only have a few months to live. Her insurance company denied the treatment because of a determination that it was a pre-existing condition. She was able to receive treatment through a grant from a famous cancer center and lived for three more years. Her sister Linda joined Senator Menendez today to tell her story.

Senator Menendez was also joined by Wendell Potter, a former insurance company executive who felt the need to do the socially conscious thing – to leave his employment and speak out about the problems inherent in the health insurance industry and the pressing need for health care reform. A long time employee in the health insurance industry, when the health care reform debate began, he became vocal on how insurance companies look for ways to deny coverage, are misleading in their advertising and hike small businesses’ premiums after an employee suffers an accident or an illness.

The Senate Finance Committee, of which Menendez is a member, will start forging a bill once Congress goes back in session on September 8th.

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