"And when all is said and done, part of why I believe so strongly in reforming our health care system is because of the difference it will make for these women who gave us life -- so simple -- these women who raised us, these women who supported us through the years" -- so said the First Lady in explaining why she wanted to speak about how health insurance reform will affect older women in America. She followed several other women who were willing to share their difficult and even tragic stories dealing with the status quo, and thanked them for speaking out.
The First Lady has spoken before about the many ways in which reform will benefit women in particular. And as for the impact on all Americans as they become seniors and rely on Medicare, the Vice President gave the scare tactics propagated by defenders of the status quo the contempt they deserve. The First Lady made sure to cover all of that ground again, but also made the point that older woman have their own specific circumstances:
And I don’t think anyone here will be surprised to learn that a recent study found that one-third of all women have either used up savings, taken on debt, or given up basic necessities just to pay their medical bills. And as many of you know firsthand, these kinds of problems -- the problems of coverage and cost -- only grow worse when you get older, making quality, affordable coverage harder to come by just -- as we’ve seen today and heard today -- just when you need it the most.
In the individual market, people in their early 60s are more than twice as likely to be denied coverage than people in their late 30s. Older women are more likely than men to face a chronic illness, but they’re less likely to be able to afford the cost of treating that illness. And in recent years, studies have shown that women over the age of 65 spend about 17 percent of their income on health care. And that’s just not right.
Our mothers and grandmothers, they have taken care of us all their lives; they’ve made the sacrifices that it takes to get us where we need to be. And we have an obligation to make sure that we’re taking care of them. It’s as simple as that. America has a responsibility to give all seniors the golden years they deserve and the secure, dignified retirement that they worked so hard to achieve. (Applause.)