The Supreme Court Decision Hasn’t Ended the Threat to Obamacare. but It’s Made It Easier for the President to Defend It.
President Obama gave a subdued, if satisfied, statement on Thursday, after learning that the Supreme Court had upheld the Afforable Care Act. But he finished it off with a personal note. He told his fellow Americans about a letter hanging in his office, from an Ohio woman named Natoma Canfield.
Canfield, a breast cancer survivor and self-employed housekeeper, had written the letter in late 2009, as the fate of what would become Obamacare remained very much in doubt. She had gone into debt paying her medical bills, eventually dropping insurance because it had become too expensive for her to afford. She ended up getting charity care at the Cleveland Clinic, after Obama first mentioned her story publicly in 2010. But, Obama said, “I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law. It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well.”
I’ve never met Ms. Canfield, so I can’t tell you anything more about her story. But, like a lot of journalists who write about health care, I’ve met hundreds of people who faced crises like she has. Every story of hardship is different. Some people had no insurance. Others had insurance, only to discover it didn’t cover what they needed. But the common thread in these stories is the fundamental unfairness of it all. Whatever their very human faults or mistakes, these people were all victims of misfortune, sometimes financial and sometimes medical—and, as a result, their livelihoods and in some cases their very lives were at stake. They lived in the richest country in the world, yet paying for basic medical care, something the citizens of every other developed country take for granted, was a struggle.