NAACP Student Spotlights “Pre-Existing Condition” Problem In Senate Press Conference

On Monday, December 7th, Senators Debbie Stabenow, Jeff Merkley and Mark Begich held a press conference on Capitol Hill to promote a Health Care Bill of Rights to protect consumers from being denied coverage based on illness or “pre-existing conditions.”

Joining the Senators on stage was Zikia T. Jones Martin, a Howard University NAACP chapter member whose personal battle with her insurance company was brought to light last month when the NAACP solicited health care horror stories from our members and supporters.

Two years ago, Zikia Jones lost her mother, Tracy, who succumbed to breast cancer after a seven year battle. Her mother’s final years were marked by pain and fear, after she was forced to battle her disease without medication or the ability to see a doctor. Having maxed out her existing health coverage years earlier, no other insurance company would carry her, citing the cancer as a pre-existing condition.

Mrs. Jones passed away outside a hospital ICU, where she had spent her final 10 hours waiting for treatment.

During the press conference, Senator Merkley said, “For too long, Americans have been at the mercy of unfair insurance company practices.  Insurers had all the power to deny coverage, drop coverage, raise premiums sky-high or limit care.  All the power has been on the side of the insurer.  Health care reform puts fair opportunities in the hands of American citizens by ending these abusive practices.”

Also on the podium were Georgeanne Koehler, a Pennsylvania woman who lost her brother after he was denied health insurance, and Jim Guest, President of the Consumers Union.

Zikia Jones’ story was just one of hundreds received NAACP in recent weeks. Her passionate testimonial before an NAACP-sponsored health care town hall in Washington, DC last October marked a poignant moment in the evening, and brought Ms. Jones to the attention of decision makers on Capitol Hill.

The NAACP’s 880 Campaign is committed reforming health care in the United States ensure sure that horror stories like those endured by Ms. Zikia Jones and her family do not continue, and that every American has a right to quality, affordable health care coverage.

 Senator Mark Begich of Alaska

Zikia Jones tells her story


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