My core belief in equality is one of the reasons I decided to run for Congress. My belief that we all deserve a fair shot extends to every corner of our lives, including the belief that your income, social status, occupation or lack thereof should not determine your access to quality healthcare.
The United States spends more on healthcare per person than any other advanced nation in the world, yet millions of Americans still are unable to access medical care. Today, 12.2 percent of Americans do not have health insurance. They are unable to pay afford the outrageous premiums and deductibles charged by insurance companies and cannot afford any medical treatment, let alone the best or most advanced. A 2009 study found that every year, 45,000 Americans die as a result of lack of health insurance coverage.
Americans deserve a health care system in which those who need help are not forced to choose between life-saving healthcare or avoiding bankruptcy. Insurance companies should not be the ones to decide whether or not someone should receive the life-saving drugs or treatment.
Likewise, the need for access to care that is culturally competent is a sentiment that I prioritize. As the cofounder of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls - the first House Caucus dedicated to the study of policies related to the amplification and enrichment of women of color - I have worked diligently to be an advocate for these issues. Women especially have unique health care needs that require special focus and attention. The ability to have access to primary care and preventive services that are mindful of these needs is a necessity that I emphasize.
These are just few of the reasons why I authored the HEALTHY MOM ACT (H.R. 576). With this legislation women can enroll in or update their health coverage when they become pregnant. I believe legislation such as this helps to promote pertinent health practices that have a trickle-down effect on the family.
My recent health scare is a reminder that medical care should be priority. After my doctor found a small cancerous tumor on my lungs during a routine visit, I too shared the fear that many Americans face. I was blessed to have options that saved my life. If it wasn’t for the opportunity to receive comprehensive and quality medical services I could have suffered a wide range of more tragic outcomes. My journey has shown me that disease is no respecter of position, wealth, sex, or age. Sickness is not limited to any one group of people and neither should medical care.
Access should not be a privilege, it should be a right. We as Americans should have the right to live a healthy life that is not jeopardized by politics or partisanship. We must acknowledge that health is necessary to guarantee the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Today I am a living representation of the benefits of quality health coverage. For me, this is more than just ideology, it is an experience that has had a tremendous impact on my life and the lives of many of my constituents.