Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sen. Ed Flanagan on Healthcare

All Vermonters deserve affordable healthcare coverage.

That point was made even more pointedly, and poignantly by Senator Ed Flanagan on May 5, 2006 when Ed returned to the Vermont State House after months of hospitalization following a car crash that almost took his life.

His speech on the floor of the Senate chamber was powerful, and the standing ovation he received in the Senate and later in the House was enveloping and heartfelt.

I've reprinted his remarks on the floor of the Vermont Senate:

Mr. President, it's good to be back. You're looking at someone who is grateful to be alive, recovering, and with all of you. I am a living testament to the hard work and dedication of the doctors, nurses, and staff at Fletcher Allen in Vermont and Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.

I was told, but remember nothing, about what happened five months ago. My car tumbled down a steep hill and ended upside-down in a ravine. I was trapped. I remained there for 18 hours until Jimmy Bisson noticed my car and called police. They quickly came and emergency medical steps were taken, which saved my life. The temperatures which hovered just above freezing slowed my metabolism which was crucial to my surviving. I have no memory of the next six weeks. I started the long and painful journey to consciousness.

With the help of many of you, I slowly realized the challenge of recovering and regaining myself. You engaged me in the work of my two committees -- Health and Welfare and Judiciary -- that speeded up my recovery. Now, I'm working hard on fully getting back to my public service for Vermonters. The effects of the accident, like my work here in the Senate, are still challenges to confront. Working with many of you on the personal and political fronts, I look ahead to the future with every increasing confidence.

I'm humbled by my insights about the vulnerability of every Vermonter and the need for comprehensive health insurance. I can't imagine where I'd be without the sustained intensive rehab therapy that my insurance makes possible. I can't imagine how working Vermont families can stay afloat after an uninsured wage-earner sustains a serious injury or illness.

This is the challenge that we cannot duck. I salute the efforts of this body to meet this challenge.

This Senator from Chittenden County stands before you with a deepened appreciation of human life. My experience speaks to the profoundly high stakes of providing adequate health insurance for all Vermonters.

Thank you to my partner, Isaac Lustgarten, who has been loyal and supportive throughout this ordeal, my family and friends, the Fletcher Allen staff, my colleagues here, and the countless Vermonters who continue to send me encouragement and support. The devotion has been moving. I am proud to be part of a community that has shown such love and support which is typical of Vermont values.

Mr. President, I'm eager to continue working for Vermonters who are all part of a community that was there for me when I was in need.