Natoma Canfield, Obama's exaggerated example of the financial troubles posed by health care crises
I want to thank Connie -- I want to thank Connie, who introduced me. I want to thank her and her family for being here on behalf of her sister, Natoma. I don't know if everybody understood that Natoma is in the hospital right now, so Connie was filling in. It’s not easy to share such a personal story, when your sister who you love so much is sick. And so I appreciate Connie being willing to do so here today, and -- (applause) -- and I want everybody to understand that Connie and her sister are the reason that I’m here today. (Applause.)
See, Connie felt it was important that her sister’s story be told. But I want to just repeat what happened here. Last month, I got a letter from Connie’s sister, Natoma. She’s self-employed, she’s trying to make ends meet, and for years she’s done the responsible thing, just like most of you have. She bought insurance -- she didn’t have a big employer who provided her insurance, so she bought her health insurance through the individual market.
And it was important for her to have insurance because 16 years ago, she was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer. And even though she had been cancer-free for more than a decade, the insurance companies kept on jacking up her rates, year after year. So she increased her out-of-pocket expenses. She raised her deductible. She did everything she could to maintain her health insurance that would be there just in case she got sick, because she figured, I didn’t want to be -- she didn’t want to be in a position where, if she did get sick, somebody else would have to pick up the tab; that she’d have to go to the emergency room; that the cost would be shifted onto folks through their higher insurance premiums or hospitals charging higher rates. So she tried to do the right thing.
And she upped her deductible last year to the minimum [sic], the highest possible deductible. But despite that, Natoma’s insurance company raised her premiums by more than 25 percent. And over the past year, she paid more than $6,000 in monthly premiums. . . .
Unfortunately, Natoma’s worst fears were realized. And just last week, she was working on a nearby farm, walking outside -- apparently, chasing after a cow -- (laughter) -- when she collapsed. And she was rushed to the hospital. She was very sick. She needed two blood transfusions. Doctors performed a battery of tests. And on Saturday, Natoma was diagnosed with leukemia.
Now, the reason Natoma is not here today is that she’s lying on a hospital bed, suddenly faced with this emergency -- suddenly faced with the fight of her life. She expects to face more than a month of aggressive chemotherapy. She is racked with worry not only about her illness but about the costs of the tests and the treatment that she’s surely going to need to beat it.
So you want to know why I’m here, Ohio? I’m here because of Natoma. (Applause.) I’m here because of the countless others who have been forced to face the most terrifying challenges in their lives with the added burden of medical bills they can’t pay. I don't think that’s right. (Applause.) Neither do you. That’s why we need health insurance right now. Health insurance reform right now. (Applause.) . . .
There is only one problem with the story the concerns that Obama raised about her financial costs aren't true.
Natoma Canfield, the cancer-stricken woman who has become a centerpiece of President Obama's push for health care reform, will not lose her home over her medical bills and will probably qualify for financial aid, a top official at the Cleveland medical center treating her told FoxNews.com.
Though Canfield's sister Connie Anderson said her sibling is afraid she'll lose her house and Obama warned at an Ohio rally Monday that the patient is "racked with worry" about the cost of tests and treatment, she is already being screened for financial help.
Lyman Sornberger, executive director of patient financial services at the Cleveland Clinic, said "all indications" at the outset are that she will be considered for assistance.
"She may be eligible for state Medicaid ... and/or she will be eligible for charity (care) of some form or type. ... In my personal opinion, she will be eligible for something," he said, adding that Canfield should not be worried about losing her home.
"Cleveland Clinic will not put a lien on her home," he said. . . .