Sen. Mazie Hirono, who has stage 4 kidney cancer, fights tears during heartfelt healthcare plea
Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, called on her Republican colleagues Thursday night to vote against the Obamacare repeal, and show the American people the same compassion they showed her after her cancer diagnosis in May.
Prior to the Senate narrowly defeating the bill that would have repealed portions of Obamacare, Hirono stood in the Senate chamber and begged her colleagues to take a step back from politics and focus on Americans.
She said repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act would hurt the "sickest, poorest amongst us."
Hirono said when she was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer many of her Republican colleagues offered their condolences and wrote her notes sharing their own battles with cancer.
"You showed me your care, you showed me your compassion, where is that tonight?" she said banging her fist on the table. "...I find it hard to believe we can sit here and vote on a bill that is going to hurt millions and millions of people in our country."
Hirono said health care was deeply personal to her because she grew up without it. Hirono noted that she was probably the only Senator who was not born in a hospital, but at home in rural Japan. She lost her two-year-old sister to pneumonia because her parents could not afford care.
"She died at home, not in a hospital where she could have been saved," Hirono said, fighting back tears.
Hirono said her mother, like many immigrants, brought her family to this country for a better life.
"We came here with nothing," she said. "She had low paying jobs; there was no health coverage. Growing up as a young girl in Hawaii my greatest fear was that my mother would get sick, and if she got sick how would we pay for her care. How would she go to work?"
She said having health insurance allowed her to focus on her job and not on how to pay for her care.
"Now here I am a United States senator, I am fighting kidney cancer and I am just so grateful that I had health insurance so that I could concentrate on the care I needed rather than how the heck I was going to afford the care that was going to probably save my life."
Republican Senators voted 49-51 for the bill, falling two votes short of the 51 votes needed to pass the legislation. In addition to McCain, the Republicans who voted against the bill were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.