Thursday September 26, 2013 | 12:41 AM

WASHINGTON – Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, got personal in defending Obamacare on Wednesday, explaining that if it weren’t for preventative care covered by his health insurance he may not have lived into his 30s much less survived long enough to serve in Congress.

During a Senate floor speech, King recalled how, as a 29-year-old congressional staffer, he went to the doctor for a routine checkup that was free thanks to his insurance. It was during that physical examination that the doctor found a suspicious-looking mole on King’s back that tests showed to be "a pretty serious form of cancer."

“Forty years ago when I was a staff member in this institution, I went and had that checkup because I had insurance,” King said. “They found the mole, they did the surgery and here I am today.”

While King attributed part of the discovery to luck, he said insurance was the key.

“I can tell you to a certainty, Mr. President, that if I hadn’t had that insurance I wouldn’t have gone to that checkup,” he said, addressing the Senate President. “And if I hadn’t had that checkup when I did, within months or perhaps a year and a half I would have been gone.”

He then contrasted his experience with the estimated 20,000 and 25,000 people who die in the U.S. every year because they lacked health insurance and, therefore, did not get medical treatment in time. But King said few people notice all of those deaths because they happen one at a time and “It’s not listed in the obituary, ‘Died because of no health insurance.’”

“Why doesn’t that bother us? Why aren’t we spending days and nights here talking about how to solve this problem instead of how to dismantle the most significant health care problem to come to this country in years?” he said.

He ended by saying there are aspects of Obamacare that he would change and that opponents should be working to improve the parts they dislike, not repeal the entire law.

King delivered his remarks on a day filled with speechifying – both pro and con – on Obamacare. The oratories had begun the day before when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took to the floor to wage a largely one-man, 21-hour-long campaign against the health care law.

Many people did not consider Cruz’s nearly day-long speech a true filibuster – the famous Senate delay tactic – because it had a pre-determined end time. It did, however, achieve its goal of galvanizing hard-core Obamacare opponents and generating massive news coverage.

The Senate is expected to vote later this week or on Sunday on a temporary government spending bill that – as sent over by the Republican-controlled House – also would defund Obamacare. The Senate is expected to remove the Obamacare references and send the “clean” budget bill back to the House, potentially the less-predictable chamber just hours to pass the spending measure before triggering a partial government shutdown on Oct. 1.

 

 

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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