02.20.09

Rhode Island Medical Student Who Struggled to Find Health Care Will Join Whitehouse at Obama’s First Address to Congress

Washington, D.C. - A Rhode Island medical student living with Crohn's disease - and who faces challenges finding affordable health care in the future - will attend President Barack Obama's first address to Congress Tuesday evening as the guest of U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Lauren Goddard, a medical student at Brown University, will watch President Obama's speech Tuesday from the Visitor's Gallery of the House of Representatives. The President has pledged to make affordable, accessible health care a reality for all Americans.

Goddard, whose family lives in West Warwick, was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2005, just after graduating from college. At a community dinner Whitehouse hosted February 8 at the Tri-City Elks Lodge in Warwick, she wrote about her difficulty finding health insurance that wouldn't put the cost of her medications out of reach.

"I always took my health care coverage for granted until I was too old to be covered under my mother's health insurance plan. At that time I realized how limited my options would be as an individual with a pre-existing condition," Goddard wrote.

Goddard, 26, is a co-leader of Brown's chapter of the American Medical Student Association. She will graduate from Brown's Warren Alpert Medical School in 2012, and plans to pursue a residency in family medicine or obstetrics and gynecology.

"Unless we fix our broken health care system, reliable, affordable health insurance will too often be out of reach for people like Lauren who live with chronic conditions," Whitehouse said. "Having health care you can count on means peace of mind, and that shouldn't just be a privilege restricted to those who can afford the best health care - it should be a right for everyone in this country."

Whitehouse has been an outspoken advocate for health care reform, authoring legislation that focuses on the advancement of health information technology, quality improvement that saves lives and money, prevention of illness, and reform of the reimbursement system. At the community dinner in Warwick, he unveiled a new web page featuring personal stories from Rhode Islanders who have struggled to find affordable health insurance for themselves or their families, or who have found themselves tangled in our dysfunctional health care bureaucracy.

Lauren Goddard's story is one of the first to be featured on Whitehouse's Health Care Storyboard, which is online at http://whitehouse.senate.gov/storyboard.

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