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First Lady Michelle Obama Highlights Breast Cancer Awareness

First Lady Michelle Obama discusses breast cancer and health care reform before an audience of survivors, lawmakers, and doctors.


Friday afternoon in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, First Lady Michelle Obama donned pink to honor the millions of women and families affected by breast cancer. Speaking to a crowd of survivors, lawmakers, and doctors, the First Lady highlighted the importance of adequate health coverage for those facing the disease. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and these women deserve to battle their disease without the worry of their insurance companies letting them down:

And this is a disease, as we know, that affects not just those diagnosed with it, and not just those who've survived it and those who've lost their lives to it, but it is a disease that also affects those who love and know them -- which these days seems like almost every single person in this country. 

That's why it is so critically important that we finally reform our health care system that is causing so much heartache for so many people affected by this disease.  Now is the time. 

Fortunately, that's exactly what the plans being considered by Congress right now would do.  

So just to be clear, under these plans, if you already have insurance that works for you, then you're all set.  You can keep your insurance and you can keep your doctors. 

The plans put in place some basic rules of the road to protect you from abuses and unfair practices by insurance companies.  That would mean no more denying coverage to people like women we heard from today because of so-called preexisting conditions like having survived cancer.  (Applause.)  Because there's a belief that if you've already fought cancer, you shouldn't have to also fight with insurance companies to get the coverage that you need at a price that you can afford.  (Applause.)  

These plans mean insurance companies will no longer be allowed to cap the amount of coverage that you can get, and will limit how much insurance companies can charge you for out-of-pocket expenses, because in this country, getting sick shouldn't mean going bankrupt.  (Applause.)    

And finally, these plans will require insurance companies to cover basic preventative care -- from routine checkups, to mammograms, to pap smears -- at no extra charge to you.  And though I want to emphasize that in the end, as we all know, it's our responsibility as women to also talk to our doctors about what screenings that we need and then make the appointments to get those screenings, even when it's inconvenient or maybe a little bit uncomfortable.  It's something that we owe not just to ourselves but to the people that love us.  

First Lady Highlights Breast Cancer Awareness

(First Lady Michelle Obama talks with a participant following a Breast Cancer Awareness Month event in the East Garden of the White House, Oct. 23, 2009. Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton) (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)