U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd, and Chris Murphy, D-5th, spoke at a town hall meeting in Middletown Thursday to support President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act, under fire from Republicans in Washington.
"The Affordable Health Act is critical," DeLauro said. "Washington has tried to repeal it 31 times," she said, a sentiment echoed by the other speakers, without ever mentioning Obama by name.
DeLauro said women routinely pay more than men under a discriminatory practice of "gender rating."
"In fact, women pay 48 percent more for insurance than men," she said.
The Affordable Health Act is needed, she explained because, "this is not something insurance companies are going to change on their own. Less than 5 percernt of these plans currently cover maternity services."
Also in attendance were Democratic candidate for the 13th District State Senate seat Dante Bartolomeo of Meriden who is challenging Republican Sen. Len Suzio.
While she was a community organizer at the healthcare4every1 campaign, Bartolomeo said she was exposed to a "disturbing" trend.
"One of the things I found most unsettling was people that were opposed to growing the access to affordable and quality health care were often very selfish and it was more about their own situation than community responsibility."
"Opposition comes from fear. I would much rather sacrifice some of what I have or pay more so my family, friends and neighbors also have the access," Bartolomeo said.
Murphy, who's running against Republican Linda McMahon for Sen. Joseph Lieberman's seat, said he's often asked why he supports Congressional bills that advance women's health. "If my wife doesn't make as much as someone doing the exact same job, it affects me," he said.
According to Whitehouse.gov, among the many benefits to Connecticut residents are: free preventive services, no more lifetime limits on care, health insurance on parent's plan, coverage of pre-existing conditions and improving public health.
Murphy spoke broadly about the GOP. "Many Republicans in Washington really believe that people should have access to health care only if they're lucky enough to be able to afford it — even if that means that we're all going to pay more for it in the long run.
"Because the person who doesn't get health care until they get so sick that they go to the emergency room, they're willing to pay more so long as they don't violate that basic idea that every person should essentially exist on their own without health care in their community."
The meeting was held at the AME Cross Street Zion church where community experts joined the panel: Teresa C. Younger, executive director of the state Permanent Commission on the Status of Women; Community Health Center senior vice president and clinical director Margaret Flinter and surgeon Kristen A. Zarfos, medical director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center General Surgery at St. Francis.
"The conversation around health care is broad and deep and real," Younger said. "I see a nice representation of women of color here. This is important legislation because women of color often have a higher rate of heart disease, a higher rate of chronic illness, diabetes. We die at higher rates. If we do not own our health care, it will be taken away."
DeLauro concluded the panel by saying, "the issues that we talked about today are absolutely issues of life and death. There is nothing that is more important. You need to take that message and you need to drive that home."
"The most important thing, she told those gathered, is to vote in November."