DENVER (CBS4)– A state lawmaker pays tribute to her dad in an emotional speech on the state House floor on Friday. That’s when she vowed to pass a bill addressing medical debt in his honor.
Rep. Kerry Tipper’s dad among the heroes who came home from World War II. A member of the storied Easy Company, Ed Tipper parachuted into Normandy on D-Day. A mortar blast would nearly take his life.
“He had a tremendous appreciation for what sacrifice meant. He had a tremendous ability to see suffering in others. He valued life in a way few others value it,” Tipper told colleagues in the House Chamber on Military Appreciation Day.
The annual event came, coincidentally and fittingly, two years to the day of her dad’s death.
It is how he died that inspired Tipper, a Democrat representing Lakewood, to run for office. It was not as a casualty of war, but as a victim of the health care system.
Despite insurance, Tipper says, his medical bills were crushing, “You find yourself in a position where your whole world feels like it’s spinning out of control. You’re grieving. You’re stressed out. At the end of my dad’s life, there were decisions he had to make about his care that really dealt more with what they could afford and frankly what would be left for my mom when he was gone.”
It is what inspired Tipper to introduce a bill to prevent collection companies from garnishing wages of people who can’t pay medical debt. She says most of those who’s wages are garnished make less than $40,000 a year.
“For so many working families here in Colorado, we are steps away from something catastrophic and when you think that medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country, we know something is wrong. Here was someone who served his community, he served as a teacher, he served his country, he saved money. And at the end of his life it wasn’t good enough. He was a champion of the little guy and I hope that I can honor his legacy by being the same way.”
Tipper’s bill has its first committee hearing on Monday.