Health care summit: Murray says boy's mom died after losing insurance

WASHINGTON – Sen. Patty Murray has told the story of Marcelas Owens dozens of times before, but Thursday she may never have had a bigger audience as she talked of the 10-year-old Seattle boy whose mother died after she lost her health insurance coverage.

As President Barack Obama’s health care summit with Republicans wound down, the Washington Democrat said the story of Marcelas was a poignant example of why health care reform is needed now.

“I think about him every time we talk about this bill,” Murray said.

As part of Democratic leadership and a member of one of the committees with jurisdiction over health care reform, Murray was one of eight Senate Democrats who attended the day-long summit. After the summit, Murray said it is now up to Republicans to decide whether they want to participate in writing a final bill.

If Republicans don’t get involved, “we will have to move forward. We can’t put this away on a bookshelf and wait.”

Murray said Marcelas’ mom lost her job as a manager of a fast food restaurant and her health insurance when she got sick. She died at age 27 leaving Marcelas and two siblings without a mom, the senator said.

“All of us come to the table having heard these stories,” Murray said. “Too many Americans are in a box and don’t have a choice. I go back to Marcelas and think, would that choice have allowed his mother to live.”

Marcelas, in a statement released by the Washington Community Action Network, thanked Murray for sharing his story with the president.

“I lost my mom because she didn’t have health care,” Marcelas said. “Every day it’s hard not having her around. I don’t want any other kid to go through what I have gone through.”

Republican lawmakers from Washington state insisted the current bills need to be scrapped.

Les Blumenthal: 202-383-0008