An Unlikely Reunion
When I signed-up for “Real World Boston” I expected an adventure of a lifetime. I did not expect it to lead me to the love of my life, Rachel (or our seven incredible kids!), and I definitely did not expect it to lead me to a career in Congress. Perhaps what I expected least is that it would end-up being an unlikely vehicle for raising unprecedented awareness about an illness that has impacted far too many women and families; ovarian cancer.
I witnessed the fear my sister felt when the doctor told her she had ovarian cancer. She fought this horrible disease and eventually won, but for far too many, this diagnosis does not end in remission. Ovarian cancer is a devastating, deadly disease that takes the lives of over 14,000 women each year. There is no early detection test and the symptoms are often confused with other diseases, leaving 85% of women diagnosed in a late stage. Over 21,000 American women are diagnosed each year and 1 in 4 of them will die within a year of her diagnosis. Over 50% of them won’t make it five years.
One woman who defied the odds was Diem Brown. She was a beloved star of the MTV show, “The Challenge” and was first diagnosed with the disease at just 23. For ten years she battled not just for her life but she was also a tireless advocate for the cause. Through MTV and her relationship with People magazine, she arguably did more to raise awareness about this horrible disease than most any other effort. Diem lost her battle last November at just 34 years old, but her fight lives on.
Recognizing my unique position to elevate this cause, I started the bipartisan Congressional Ovarian Cancer Caucus and called-up the MTV family to see if anyone would be willing to help us launch it. Knowing of Diem’s efforts, along with her family, several of them dropped everything to fly thousands of miles to be with us this week. It was great to reunite in support of this important cause. Through this caucus, my colleagues and I will elevate the conversation and be a voice for the patients, families and caregivers who have experienced far too much heartbreak because of this disease. If you would like to stay informed of upcoming caucus briefings and events please email my office – we would love for you to be a part of the effort.
The day did not end there. A couple of hours later I took to the Floor of the House to offer a bill that would empower states with the ability to exclude abortion providers from receiving Medicaid funds. H.R. 3495, the Women’s Health and Safety Act passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 236 to 193. Click on the image to watch my remarks during debate on the bill:
Some states want to refuse this tainted money being used by an awful organization that profits from selling aborted children’s organs, but the Medicaid law and CMS is forcing them to fund abortion providers against the state legislature’s wishes.
Very specifically, the bill makes abortion providers not fall under the “free choice of qualified provider” provision. So excluding abortion providers from Medicaid funding would not count as “limiting healthcare options”, which is not allowed under Medicaid.
To follow with this, I closed out the week voting against the House spending bill that included funding for Planned Parenthood. I want to keep the government open and operating, but our taxpayer dollars should go to support facilities that actually provide comprehensive care for women and families. As recent news reports and videos have indicated, and a Congressional investigation may prove, that should not apply to Planned Parenthood.
I look forward to keeping you posted on the progress of these issues. As always, if you have concerns or ideas, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Until next week…
Have a great week,