OWL Member Invited to the White House

November 13, 2009 Contact: Natale Zimmer, Health Policy Director 202.329.3540 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it OWL Member Invited to the White House

Washington, DC -- Today, Kelly Adair Bollinger, a member of OWL – The Voice of Midlife and Older Women, was invited to the White House to share her story of medical bankruptcy and her struggle to afford private health insurance for her family. Mrs. Bollinger met with the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and with Nancy Ann DeParle, the Director of Health Reform, at the White House prior to sharing her story with the audience in the East Room. “I am a middle aged woman who is a professional, who raised a family while working full time, who has been married for over 30 years to a husband who was also a working professional. And at age 52, I am working almost exclusively to pay our ongoing medical bills and the bankruptcy fees that are largely due to past medical bills. If bankruptcy due to unexpected medical costs, loss of employer-sponsored health coverage, and loss of income can happen to me, it can happen to anyone,” said Bollinger. These stories are very common among midlife and older women, and today Mrs. Obama reiterated the White House’s commitment to ending some of the egregious practices of the private health insurance industry. No longer will women be charged higher premiums than men, and no longer will people be denied health insurance coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions. Additionally, caps will be placed on out-of-pocket health care spending. These changes are critical for pre-Medicare women age 50-64, who are often unable to afford coverage in the current system. In addition to Mrs. Bollinger, several OWL staff and local members attended the event. Ruth Nadel, 95, and a D.C. founding member of OWL, was recognized by Tina Tchen, the Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, for her work with OWL to bring the issues of midlife and older women to light. After the event Mrs. Nadel met the First Lady. “This event was critical in recognizing the unique problems midlife and older women face in the private insurance market. The White House is doing a great service by inviting the American public to share their stories of how our current system of health care is broken and to help explain why the status quo can’t continue. Discrimination, both gender and age, is rampant in private health insurance, and it must be stopped,” said Ashley Carson, Executive Director of OWL.

Since 1980, OWL has been fighting against the double whammy of age and gender discrimination that largely impacts midlife and older women.