THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY JOHN COX AT HEALTH CARE EXPRESS EVENT
The South Lawn
MR. COX: President and Mrs. Clinton, fellow riders: To take a little liberty of a song that I used to sing in Sunday School, "rich and middle class and poor, whether you're of color or white, all Americans are precious in God's sight." (Applause.)
Like many and most Americans, Jan and I, from our early teens, worked hard. She used to work in a country store and restaurant. I used to deliver papers. Throughout our life, we pretty well had insurance all the time, although working in small businesses it was sort of tenuous how much security it would give.
As the First Lady said, made a decision to -- you know, we were living the normal life, middle America, and we had a mortgage, putting kids through school. And we took a risk -- really, I took the risk -- to leave a business that I had been with for several years and go manage a Christian radio station, I considered a mission for Jesus Christ. (Applause.)
Didn't realize until it was too late that the insurance premiums I had been promised to have paid were not being paid. And shortly thereafter, Jan started having stomach problems, like that 16-year-old. Shucks, we thought it was just a reoccurrence of an old ulcer she had had 25 years earlier. Called the doctor; knew I couldn't afford to go see the doctor. She said, we can't afford it. And you don't know the spirit that this woman had and the tenaciousness that she had.
She said, see if Dr. Kearns can do something over the phone for us. And, yes, the doctor did. He's one of the finest men I've ever met in my life. In fact, the whole staff in the hospital wherever we were for the last three years down in Athens and Tyler, Texas, can't be beat as far as I'm concerned.
But for six or seven months, we were doctored basically by telephone. Doug said, yes, it's probably that reoccurring ulcer. Let's give her some Tagamet. Yes, well, that's not working. Let's give her -- it's a little bit stronger -- it's call Zantac. Finally, one day I came home and she was doubled up on the bed. And she don't double up. She could take pain more than anybody I've ever seen in my life. And she said, "Something's wrong." And I said, "Well, we're going to do something; I don't know what."
So I called Doug up and he said, meet us to the hospital. They did a scope job. A few days later they called us back. He said, "I've got news, and it's not good. She's got adenocarcinoma of the stomach, which is very rare. She may have six months to live."
By the grace of God, she lived just short of 40 months.
When this Health Care Express came about she said, "John" -- and she was in the hospital; her last hospital stay -- she said, "Get on it. Take a message to the people on it, to the people along the way, to every person you can." And by this time, I don't know whether she had had a slight stroke or not; they don't know. She was mumbling really. She said, "Tell them that unless every person, no matter how rich, no matter how poor, no matter how middle class, no matter what color -- unless they have affordable, guaranteed, universal health coverage, every other American is at jeopardy, is at risk." (Applause) Because no one -- just like us -- no one knows where it might fall or when it might fall.
And so we buried her Monday. And I'm here today to tell Congress that right is right.
My old daddy, who was politically, I guess, at the other end of the spectrum from me -- (laughter) -- but he used to say, a country or a nation's most valuable resource is her people. And that's what this is all about -- people. (Applause.)
Unless we can ensure universal health coverage to all Americans, then life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for some is just a dream. And that dream, as Jan said, might be in jeopardy. Nothing would delight me more -- and I doubt this would ever happen, but if it could, Mr. and Mrs. President -- I don't guess I'm supposed to say that, but anyway -- (laughter) -- if the legislation that's formed and written was named the Jeanette Health Care Reform Act -- the Jeanette Cox Health Care Reform Act of 1994.
Let's do it. Tell your congressmen; tell your senators. Do it now. (Applause.)