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Letters to President Obama


Shelley Muniz, Columbia, California

July 20, 2009


President Barack Obama

White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington DC 20500


Dear President Obama,

First, thank you for taking on the awesome responsibility you have accepted as our President. I am so thankful and proud you are in the White House. And thank you for your effort toward health care reform. When you were campaigning for President, I heard you speak about insurance company denial of doctor prescribed medical treatments. You were the only candidate I heard speak about this particularly vital issue.

Forgive me. This is not the first letter I have sent you. I can only hope that through persistence, my son’s story will be heard.

One evening in the spring of 1991, I received a phone call from my son’s doctor. “Shelley,” he said. “Micah’s blood tests showed a problem. You need to take him to Oakland Children’s Hospital as soon as possible.”

Three weeks later, my vibrant, active, twelve-year-old was diagnosed with acute myeloblastic leukemia. Over the next two years, Micah became a victim not only of his disease, but of the insurance company that eventually denied payment for the bone marrow transplant his doctors felt might save his life. The delays by our insurance company, their eventual denial, cost Micah valuable time; his condition deteriorated rapidly as my family struggled to raise the $107,000.00 ‘good faith’ payment required by a cancer center in Texas to admit him as a patient. By the time he finally got his transplant, he had little strength left to fight the side effects.

In the year following Micah’s death, I struggled to find an attorney willing to take on a mega-conglomerate such as my insurance company, to help me face the hospital and doctor bills amounting to $265,00.00. I spoke to other parents, people who had gone through a similar experience. Their questions were the same as mine: How is it possible to end up in a situation such as this? How can a middle class family come up with such an exorbitant amount of money? What happens to a child’s spirt as he waits for strangers to make decisions about his life, whether to give it, or take away? I was able to speak with then California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, and with President Bill Clinton at a Town Hall Meeting in Sacramento. The end result was that there were no answers; nothing or no one could help us through the nightmare.

There must be some safeguards, some regulatory provisions built into our new system, some assuredness that we, are people. as patients, will be allowed treatments if those treatments are prescribed by knowledgeable professionals, or a group of professionals within their chosen field. Those decisions should not be refuted by someone in corporate office with no direct personal connection to patient involved.

We should not be left to wonder about, worry about, stress over whether doctor prescribed medical procedures will be paid or not. Being denied treatment by your insurance company when push comes too shove is a nightmare beyond what is decent and humane; when the fate of your child is being determined by strangers, by some conglomerate looking at dollars instead of the life that might be saved, is a tragedy beyond what should be tolerated by our citizens.

Thank you for your understanding and drive for change in this crucial matter.

Shelley Muniz

Columbia, CA