Published July 29, 2009
The following is an excerpt from an op-ed that Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) wrote for Newsweek on July 18, 2009:
"In 1964, I was flying with several companions to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention when our small plane crashed and burned short of the runway. My friend and colleague in the Senate, Birch Bayh, risked his life to pull me from the wreckage. Our pilot, Edwin Zimny, and my administrative assistant, Ed Moss, didn't survive. With crushed vertebrae, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung, I spent months in New England Baptist Hospital in Boston. To prevent paralysis, I was strapped into a special bed that immobilizes a patient between two canvas slings. Nurses would regularly turn me over so my lungs didn't fill with fluid. I knew the care was expensive, but I didn't have to worry about that. I needed the care and I got it.
"Now I face another medical challenge. Last year, I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Surgeons at Duke University Medical Center removed part of the tumor, and I had proton-beam radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital. I've undergone many rounds of chemotherapy and continue to receive treatment. Again, I have enjoyed the best medical care money (and a good insurance policy) can buy.
"But quality care shouldn't depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to.
"This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in DenverÃ¢â‚¬â€�to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, 'that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every AmericanÃ¢â‚¬Â¦will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege.' For four decades I have carried this causeÃ¢â‚¬â€�from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for meÃ¢â‚¬â€�and more urgencyÃ¢â‚¬â€�than ever before. But it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years."