“A year ago, my father visited the emergency room of a small, rural hospital in California’s Central Valley. His medications for severe back pain had ceased to provide relief. He was suffering immensely and could no longer care for himself. Further testing revealed something far worse than a pinched nerve or herniated disc: metastasized prostate cancer.
“The pain of hearing that my 59-year-old father had stage 4 cancer was worsened by the realization that his lack of insurance would likely determine the level of care he would receive—and thus the length of his life. After moving him into our home in Oregon, I researched the options to prevent this: putting him on our insurance plan (parents can’t be covered as dependents); buying independent coverage (his pre-existing condition disqualified him); and enrolling him in Medicare (too young). When none of these proved possible, I resigned myself to the fact that we would have to exhaust his savings and eventually sell the farmland that has been part of our family for generations—and is his only source of income—in order to qualify him for Medicaid.
“Luckily, we didn’t have to resort to this scenario. The passage of the health care reform bill enabled the Oregon Health Authority to establish a federally funded high-risk insurance pool for people like my father. As managed through the Oregon Medical Insurance Pool and a third-party administrator, the Federal Medical Insurance Pool has provided my father with insurance coverage that quite literally saved his life.
“My dad has a fantastic oncology team and access to the medications and treatments he has needed to fight his cancer. A year ago, our family was told that my dad would likely die within weeks or, if we were lucky, a few months. As we prepare to celebrate his 60th birthday—and more than six months in remission—I thank you, the OHA, and the legislators who supported health care reform for this crucial lifeline for my family and many others.
“Thank you for putting the interests of people—not insurance companies—first. Thank you for caring more about Americans fighting for their lives than approval ratings. Thank you for giving me this time with my dad.”