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For Immediate Release Contact: Ola Lessard (603) 303-9467
Date: November 12, 2005 ola@lessardcommunications.com

Michelle Morse, Inspiration for “Michelle’s Law,” Loses Her
Battle with Cancer at Age 22

Michelle Morse, the 22-year old college student whose battle with both cancer and her insurance company prompted the New Hampshire legislation (House Bill 37) now known as “Michelle’s Law,” passed away on Thursday, November 10. Michelle’s parents, AnnMarie and Glen Morse, were by her side. She is also survived by her brother Michael, 20, with whom she had a very close relationship.

Michelle’s death comes just days before a critical vote on the legislation that bears her name. This Tuesday, November 15, the NH Commerce Committee will vote whether to recommend passage of Michelle’s Law by the full NH House in early January.

A wake will be held 4-8 PM on Wednesday, November 16 at the Connor Healy Funeral Home, 537 Union Street in Manchester. Funeral services will be held Thursday, November 17 at 10:00 AM at St. Pius X, 575 Candia Road in Manchester.

The Morse family has established a scholarship in Michelle’s memory and requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to: The Michelle Morse Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Diane Tillotson, Plymouth State University, 17 High Street, MSC 50, Plymouth NH 03264

“Michelle fought so hard to the very end.... She amazed everyone,” said AnnMarie Morse of her daughter’s 23-month battle with colon cancer. “She fought with grace, dignity, courage, compassion, strength, and concern for others. She is an amazing person and is MY HERO.”

It was Michelle’s diagnosis, and the terrible shock that came afterward, that prompted her mother, a teacher at Pembroke Academy, to take on the NH legislature nearly two years ago. When Michelle’s doctors recommended that she cut back her full time schedule as an education major at Plymouth State University, the Morse family found themselves the victims of a terrible insurance catch-22.

Only full time college students are eligible to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans. And while the Morses had paid their premiums on time and maintained coverage for their daughter throughout her schooling, they were told they would lose this insurance if Michelle followed her doctors’ advice and cut back her hours to concentrate on healing while she underwent chemotherapy treatments. The only other option available, C.O.B.R.A., was more than the family could afford.
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Michelle Morse
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When faced with the decision to lose the insurance she relied on for her cancer treatments, stay full time against doctors’ advice, or bankrupt the family, Michelle chose to stay full time, pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher like her mother.

Working with NH Representatives Will Infantine (R-Manchester, sponsor) and John DeJoie (D-Concord), AnnMarie Morse helped craft language that would allow already-insured, seriously ill or injured students to cut back or take a medical leave up to 12 months without losing their insurance coverage. The law would apply only if a student’s health care providers deem the leave medically necessary.

The bill faced opposition by some legislators, and NH House Bill 37 was retained in the Commerce Committee last year. AnnMarie Morse continued her battle, took it to the media, and created a website (www.michelleslaw.com) to educate NH residents and make it easy for them to contact their legislators. This fall, she added a petition to the website. To date over 3,100 people have signed the online petition; Morse hopes to gather 10,000 before the bill comes to a vote in early January.

Earlier this year, AnnMarie took a leave of absence from her job to spend more time with her family and relieve the exhaustion that was starting to take hold. In announcing her decision in a live interview on The Arnie Arneson Show, Morse noted the irony: she could take a medical leave from her job without losing her insurance, yet a college kid with cancer or some other life threatening illness or injury would be denied the same right.

Michelle supported her mother’s fight long after it became clear the law, if passed, would come too late to help her. During the same segment of The Arnie Arneson Show, just weeks before she passed away, Michelle called in from her hospital room to say she was “so proud” of her mother. “She is trying to help out other families,” said Michelle. “It won’t affect our family, but it certainly will affect someone else.”

“Not for one minute did she ever wallow in self-pity,” said AnnMarie of her daughter this week. “She lived life to the fullest for as long as she could.”

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Please support NH House Bill 37, Michelle’s Law. Sign the petition online at www.MichellesLaw.com


for more information contact Ann Marie Morse
P.O. Box 6543, Manchester, NH 03108-6543
Phone: 603.587.0422 Mobile Phone: 603.759.3366

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