On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith introduced a bizarre story designed to show how desperate the situation is for people lacking health insurance: “A California woman has launched a unique online search for a husband. Not for love, but for health care.”
Earlier, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased the story by proclaiming: “I don’t know if you would think it’s sad or if you would think it’s admirable – but it’s definitely a position no one wants to be in. It’s an extreme to get health insurance.”
Correspondent Randall Pinkston later reported on the situation:
45-year-old Terri Carlson says she does not care what you look like, she will marry you, but only if you have good health insurance....She is divorced and has one year left under cobra health coverage, but after that, she will have nothing to help pay for numerous doctors’ appointments and dozens of medications....[she] suffers from a rare genetic disorder....And because of her disorder, insurance companies have denied her coverage.
Following Pinkston’s report, Smith interviewed Carlson in studio and asked about her inability to get coverage: “And your pre-existing condition really requires you to see doctors, to have medications, et cetera, et cetera. There is – you have no court of appeals in terms of where to go to get – to get health care.” Carlson replied: “I’ve looked, I’ve searched, there is absolutely, you know, no stone that I’ve left unturned. And there are no other options for me.”
Carlson mentioned some of the email responses she’s gotten since posting a series of videos YouTube looking for a mate with good health care insurance: “I had people e-mailing me saying ‘we want another one, we want to see.’ And then they said, you know, ‘you being – you were hired by the Democratic Party,’” Smith sarcastically interjected: “Oh, people think you’re part of a conspiracy?....The vast left-wing conspiracy at it again.”
Carlson denied the accusation: “I’m just like every other middle American that’s suffering with a pre-existing condition and caught in the middle.” Of course she then added: “And if that makes me the poster child for President Obama, I’m happy to do it.” Carlson again expressed her support for Obama near the end of the interview: “I’ve been a Republican my whole life, you know. And so when I voted for a Democrat, President Obama, for the first time I’ve ever voted Dem – you know, for a Democrat. So this isn’t about anything that’s a political agenda.”
Here is a full transcript of Smith’s interview with Carlson:
SMITH: And Terri Carlson joins us now live in the studio. Good morning.
CARLSON: Good morning.
SMITH: You can’t wipe the smile off your face. This has been quite an adventure, hasn’t it?
CARLSON: It has been.
SMITH: Let’s talk about the tough reality here. You have a pre-existing condition. And in this day and time, if you’re trying to get insurance, you are out of luck, period, right?
CARLSON: Forget about it, yeah. You forget about it, there’s no chance to get it.
SMITH: Zero chance.
SMITH: And your pre-existing condition really requires you to see doctors, to have medications, et cetera, et cetera. There is – you have no court of appeals in terms of where to go to get – to get health care.
CARLSON: I’ve – I’ve uncovered nothing. I’ve looked, I’ve searched, there is absolutely, you know, no stone that I’ve left unturned. And there are no other options for me.
SMITH: Wow. So you come up with this idea and you go on YouTube. What has the reaction been like?
CARLSON: Well, the last one went on last Sunday and after the first one hit, I had a few people e-mailing me and then people forwarded it to their friends. And then I had people e-mailing me saying ‘we want another one, we want to see.’ And then they said, you know, ‘you being – you were hired by the Democratic Party,’ you know, that I was-
SMITH: You think – oh, people think you’re part of a conspiracy?
CARLSON: They do. They do. They think I’m part of a conspiracy.
SMITH: The vast left-wing conspiracy at it again.
CARLSON: Exactly, yeah. And, you know, I’m just like every other middle American that’s suffering with a pre-existing condition and caught in the middle. And if that makes me the poster child for President Obama, I’m happy to do it.
SMITH: Would you take any of these – because I’m sure you’re a very attractive person, you have a great sense of humor, you certainly have gotten serious offers from this, I bet.
CARLSON: Oh, I’ve had about 3,000.
SMITH: [Laughter] Would you consider – I mean, people talk about they will marry for love, they will marry for money. Would you seriously consider marrying for health care coverage?
CARLSON: I will do whatever I have to do to save my life.
SMITH: And so that-
CARLSON: And that would include that.
CARLSON: And I will go through all those e-mails.
SMITH: You have children who are in their 20s.
SMITH: What do they think of this?
CARLSON: They’re very supportive. They’re worried about me, too. They’re worried. You know, I want to be here for them, this is not just about me. It’s thousands of e-mails that I have in my inbox and from my website now, people asking me to be the voice for them, the person – you know, the people that are caught in the middle. I mean, I’ve heard some tragic stories. This is for them, too. If they did a poll on my inbox about health care reform, 99% of Americans would want health care reform if they just looked at my inbox.
SMITH: You must have watched all of this very carefully then as health care reform was sort of moving through the Congress. And how about the notion of if they had just tried to do certain pieces at a time, as opposed to the whole thing, including making it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage to pre-existing conditions?
CARLSON: You know, when you’re in my position, you just want them to do something. I would have taken anything. You know, of course I want them to do something. I mean, I feel a little bit – you know, I might want to mention, I’ve been a Republican my whole life, you know. And so when I voted for a Democrat, President Obama, for the first time I’ve ever voted Dem – you know, for a Democrat. So this isn’t about anything that’s a political agenda other than the fact I’m a person that has a condition, and I’m a mother, I’m like every other person that can’t get health care and I want to live for my children and see grandchildren.
SMITH: Right. You have to do us a favor. If this turns into a marriage proposal, you have to let us know about it, alright?
CARLSON: Absolutely. Be right there.
SMITH: Alright, Terri, thanks very much for joining us.
CARLSON: You’re very welcome.
SMITH: Do appreciate it.