New Haven Register – Brian McCready
MILFORD — Calling it “great news for women,” U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, and U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., spoke to more than 100 medical professionals at Milford Hospital Wednesday, to champion the newly passed federal health bill.
Dodd, who is retiring in November after a 36-year career in Congress, said he has never been “prouder” than after the health care bill was signed into law last month by President Barack Obama.
“In my 30 years in the Senate, I’ve never seen a perfect bill,” Dodd said. “It will never happen.” But Dodd said he voted in favor of the legislation because it’s time to “step forward and try to get the answers.”
Milford Hospital President Joseph Pelaccia welcomed both lawmakers to the hospital. As Dodd made his way to the podium, he joked “who’s watching the patients?” as more than 100 employees packed inside the auditorium.
Pelaccia said the health care bill was “hotly contested,” but it will benefit many people in the state and Milford. DeLauro said the new health care law is “good for the middle class and businesses,” and will help make the country a “stronger and better place.”
DeLauro said women stand to gain the most from the changes, saying the new health bill ensures women are treated as equals to men, which previously did not occur.
Before the bill passed, individual women were routinely charged up to 48 percent more for the same insurance policies as men. Additionally, having a child, or having had a C-section, or even being a victim of domestic violence could be treated as “pre-existing conditions” by an insurance company. The new bill also allows young women and men to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26, which means regular gynecological check-ups, family planning services, and should they have children, better coverage for maternal and child health care, DeLauro said.
The new bill makes research for women’s health care issues a priority, DeLauro said. Other benefits include free mammograms for women on Medicare.
“We wrestled power away from the insurance companies,” DeLauaro said. “Health reform is here at last. It’s great news for women, great news for families and great news for Americans.”
Dood said there were 750,000 personal bankruptcies in the U.S. last year due to out of control health care costs, and said 65 percent of those people had some sort of insurance. He said deductibles became astronomical.
Seven years ago, a family of four paid $6,000 a year, and now that same family pays $12,000 a year. If lawmakers did not enact reforms that same family would soon pay $25,000 a year for health insurance, Dodd said.
Teresa Younger, of the state’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, said the law is “beyond exciting,” adding “it’s a new day for women.” She credited DeLauro and Dodd for leadership, saying health care reform would not have occurred without them.
Younger said Connecticut ranks third-highest in the country in breast cancer, and 15th in the number of ovarian cancer cases. She said she hopes improved and less expensive health coverage will urge women to go for preventive tests. She said 70,000 women in the state had no health coverage and according to the previous bill were not covered for maternity.