Part of last week’s trip to Washington DC was to help raise awareness for March of Dimes health care reform priorities. The March of Dimes isn’t for or against specific bills, rather they have three key issues they want lawmakers to keep in mind:
- Coverage for maternity and pediatric care
- Prohibition of pre-existing condition exclusions
- Maintain Medicaid and CHIP eligibility levels for pregnant women and children
There was a contingent of us from California, so we went to Capitol Hill together to tell to Congressmen and Women our stories. We had two college women (former preemies), the nation’s youth fundraising leader (an amazingly poised sixth grader named Jordan) and her mom, along with some March of Dimes dignitaries like the State Director for the CA Chapter.
Our first and longest meeting was with Congressman Pete Stark from California. In our meeting, I spoke about my experiences trying to get health insurance for myself and Madeline, and how we were both denied because of our pre-existing conditions. I told him and his aide about how our only option for health insurance was COBRA, and how despicable I thought it was that through no fault of her own my child couldn’t get health insurance. It was hard to talk about Maddie, but I really wanted someone who could make a difference to hear about her story. Hopefully things will change before our COBRA option runs out in May.
After we left Congressman Stark’s office, we stopped by the offices of Henry Waxman, Maxine Waters, and Lucille Roybal-Allard (all CA representatives). One of Ms. Roybal-Allard’s aides then gave us a tour of the Capitol and its surrounding buildings. It was (admittedly) way too much walking for me, but it was an opportunity of a lifetime (and Mike kept asking me how I was every five seconds).
The history inside the building was amazing. US History is one of my favorite subjects, so it was a really cool for me to see so much of it in person. We also were lucky enough to go to the gallery and watch part of a session of the House of Representatives. It was much more interesting in person than on CSPAN!
As amazing as the tour was, I am still so grateful Mike and I were asked to share our story with members of Congress. I am hopeful that having a face to go with health care issues made a difference. I didn’t expect any Congress members to look at me, pregnant with Binky, and say that they wouldn’t support reform that would make a difference for us. But I’m hoping that if they decide to vote against it, the image of my family and the countless others like us will pop in their heads before they place their vote.