December 10, 2019

Senator Hassan Shares Story of Cassandra Van Kuren of Manchester on Senate Floor to Highlight Stakes of Attacks on Families’ Health Care

Senator: ‘New Hampshire families…want us to work together on constructive, bipartisan solutions that improve their lives and lower their costs, not this constant uncertainty and sabotage’

WASHINGTON – On the Senate floor today, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan shared the story of Cassandra Van Kuren of Manchester, who has struggled with the costs of treating her Type 1 diabetes,  to highlight the stakes in the fight against Washington Republicans’ attacks on affordable, accessible health care. To this day, the Administration is supporting a partisan lawsuit that would raise health care costs and take health care and protections away from tens of millions of people, and is continuing to promote “junk” insurance plans which increase costs and don’t protect patients with pre-existing conditions.

 

“Throughout the last three years, the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress have been relentless in their attempts to undermine our health care system, and their efforts have increased costs and made it harder for patients to access the care that they and their families need. Instead of working to improve our health care system and ensure that it is actually working for patients, this Administration and some of my Republican colleagues have actively sought to do the opposite, and that has very real implications for the people that we serve,” Senator Hassan said.

The Senator added, “Take for example, Cassandra Van Kuren of Manchester, New Hampshire. Cassandra is a 26 year-old who is passionate about fitness and staying healthy. That’s why it was so devastating that a week before she turned 25, she got the news that she had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Cassandra’s life had been turned upside down. And after her diagnosis, she was immediately hit with another shocking blow: the costs associated with her condition. Within the first week of her diagnosis, she was forced to max out her credit card. And to this day she is still paying back all of the bills she accumulated within her first month of being diagnosed.”

 

“Families in New Hampshire and all across the country cannot afford these reckless attacks on their health care. And they want us to work together on constructive, bipartisan solutions that improve their lives and lower their costs, not this constant uncertainty and sabotage. Mr. President, the efforts of people like Cassandra – who have shared their stories in an attempt to shine a light on the challenges patients are experiencing – are incredibly important,” Senator Hassan continued. “I’ll continue to share their stories. And I’ll continue working with anyone who is serious about actually improving our health care system – not undermining it.”

 

Senator Hassan has been a staunch advocate in the Senate for affordable, quality health care and protecting Granite Staters with pre-existing conditions from being discriminated against.  Earlier this year, Senator Hassan joined with Senator Shaheen to introduce legislation to restore funding for programs that help American families get the information and support they need to find quality health care plans at a price they can afford. Senator Hassan has also fought back against the Administration’s attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act and push “junk” insurance plans that weaken pre-existing condition protections.

 

Click here for video or see below for Senator Hassan’s full speech:

 

Mr. President, I rise today to join my Democratic colleagues who have come to the floor in recent weeks to share stories from our constituents about the need to protect and improve health care.

 

Mr. President, throughout the last three years, the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress have been relentless in their attempts to undermine our health care system.

 

And their efforts have increased costs and made it harder for patients to access the care that they and their families need. 

 

Instead of working to improve our health care system and ensure that it is actually working for patients, this Administration and some of my Republican colleagues have actively sought to do the opposite—and that has very real implications for the people who we serve.

 

Take for example, Cassandra Van Kuren of Manchester, New Hampshire.

 

Cassandra is a 26 year-old who is passionate about fitness and staying healthy. That’s why it was so devastating that a week before she turned 25, she got the news that she had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

 

Cassandra’s life had been turned upside down. And after her diagnosis, she was immediately hit with another shocking blow: the costs associated with her condition. 

 

Within the first week of her diagnosis, she was forced to max out her credit card. And to this day she is still paying back all of the bills she accumulated within her first month of being diagnosed.

 

Soon after, she lost her job because she missed so much work. She then went to work with her husband at the gym that they own in Manchester, and was able to get health insurance through the business.

 

Still, the costs remain enormous. On average, Cassandra has to spend $150 a month on insulin costs alone after insurance. Her premium is over $400 per month, and every three months, she accumulates bills of over $500 due to the costs of appointments and equipment.

 

And sadly, Cassandra and her husband are nervous about starting a family because their costs for care would grow even higher: The amount of insulin a woman with type 1 diabetes needs increases three times when she is pregnant.

 

Mr. President, Cassandra’s story is an example of why we need to improve our health care system – and also why we can’t afford to allow Washington Republicans to pull us backward. 

 

The Administration is backing a partisan lawsuit – the result of which we will know soon – which would take health care away from millions of Americans, gut protections for pre-existing conditions, end Medicaid expansion, and eliminate the requirement that insurers must cover prescription drugs, maternity care, mental health care, substance use disorder treatment, and so much more.

 

With the support of Senate Republicans, the Administration has promoted – what are appropriately referred to as – junk health insurance plans. These junk plans allow insurance companies to discriminate against Americans who experience pre-existing conditions, and they also leave patients with higher health care costs and worse insurance coverage.  

 

And the Administration has opposed certain efforts to lower the costs of prescription drugs – in particular allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices on lifesaving drugs, including insulin.

 

These actions are unacceptable.

 

Families in New Hampshire and all across the country cannot afford these reckless attacks on their health care. And they want us to work together on constructive, bipartisan solutions that improve their lives and lower their costs, not this constant uncertainty and sabotage.

 

Mr. President, the efforts of people like Cassandra – who have shared their stories in an attempt to shine a light on the challenges that patients are experiencing – are incredibly important.

 

No one should have to share their most deeply personal health care stories and plead for lawmakers not to undermine their health coverage. But that is where we are. And I am incredibly grateful for those who have the courage to speak out.

 

I’ll continue to share their stories. And I’ll continue working with anyone who is serious about actually improving our health care system – not undermining it.

 

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.

 

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