Hanging on a wall outside the Oval Office, there’s a framed letter from a woman named Natoma Canfield.
For years, Natoma did everything right. She bought health insurance and paid her premiums on time. But one day, the fear of so many became her reality: She was diagnosed with cancer. She fought for her health and had been living cancer-free for some time, but her insurance company kept raising her insurance rates, year after year. She needed the coverage, but she couldn't afford it. So she had to surrender her health plan and live merely on the hope that she would stay healthy.
She shared her story in a letter to President Obama in 2009. In the following year, during the heated political fight to pass the health care law, President Obama carried Natoma’s letter with him every day as a reminder that health care reform would help change the lives of millions of people who were clinging to hope.
President Obama will be talking about people like Natoma today in Miami at 1:55 pm ET: the brothers and sisters, moms and dads, and sons and daughters across America whose lives have been improved, and even saved, because we worked together to pass and implement the Affordable Care Act.
After more than six years of this landmark law, let’s look back at the progress we’ve made:
Twenty million Americans have gained health coverage – not counting the 3 million more children gaining coverage during this period of time. More than 90 percent of Americans have health insurance for the first time ever. Up to 129 million people who could have otherwise been denied insurance because of a preexisting condition now have access to coverage – even as we have seen the slowest growth in health care prices in 50 years. And, the quality, coordination, and effectiveness of the health care we receive has improved.
Just last year, Natoma wrote another letter. She thanked the President for the Affordable Care Act and told him that she’s remained cancer-free. Her note now joins a collection of letters to the President from people who have been helped by the law. People like Astrid from North Carolina, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was able to get the surgery she needed. Or Ann Marie from Connecticut who was able to detect an early stage of breast cancer thanks to better preventive care.
As someone who has worked alongside the President, I can tell you that these are the letters that inspired him to put so much work into making health care reform a reality.
So read these letters – and tune in today to hear how far we’ve come since we passed the Affordable Care Act, and what more is needed to further improve the health of the nation.
Jeanne Lambrew is the Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy.