Earlier today, I sat down and chatted one-on-one with Mia for almost two hours! I loved our chat immensely and I was honored to spend so much time with her. As one might expect, she is engaging, warm, approachable and sincere. What I didn't expect was how much I liked her and how compassionate I really believe she is. And pragmatic. And smart and articulate.
Hey, I'm jaded-- I lived in Washington, DC. I've met more politicians than I think most of us can stomach in a lifetime. I've seen politics and lobbying up close and very personal. I worked for the country's largest and most influential special interest group in our nation's capital for almost six years. I get it. But I have to say, I'm a fan.
So how and why did I meet Mia? Because I am passionate about healthcare. Because of my experience over the last two years, I know how good people slip through the cracks when it comes to the disaster known as the US healthcare system. Until January 2012 when I was diagnosed with Stage III Multiple Myeloma, I was a healthy 44 year old. I ran. I ate healthy. I never smoked. I rarely drank. I took vitamins. I almost never ate meat except fish and chicken. I took lots of vitamins. I kept my weight in check. I had no history in the family of cancer.
And then it all changed in an instant. Oh, right... I forgot to mention that I had a high paying job with excellent medical benefits.
And then I almost lost it all. My husband, who I left upon diagnosis, threatened to cancel my health insurance. And he could have. And if I hadn't filed legal documents immediately, I would have found myself without insurance and uninsurable thanks to my newly discovered pre existing condition. And without insurance, there is no way I could have come up with the nearly $1 million tab it cost to treat me.
But now there's Obamacare and I have new insurance (thank goodness!) and so it's really important that reforms are made. Because I have at least another year of maintenance therapy and, who knows, maybe more. Because this month alone, one of my medications (just one!) cost over $7,000! Thalidomide, which has been around since the 1960's. It was originally given to women to combat nausea when pregnant. Until they discovered that it caused severe birth defects. Until a few years ago, a 28-day supply of thalidomide retailed at about $200. When it was discovered that thalidomide was very effective in treating select cancers, that same drug went from $200 to over $7,000 instantly. I think that should be illegal. But it happened. And who the hell can afford a $7,000 monthly tab for one medication? And without it, what do you tell someone? Just go die? So, yes, Obamacare has many, many good things about it. And I'm grateful.
Except Obamacare is also a disaster. And the Republicans all want to repeal it yesterday already. All of it. And who hears about their alternative plan? Not me!
So I contacted the Love Campaign. And they arranged the meeting.
Mia, like pretty much all Republicans, wants a repeal. But Mia also knows that something better needs to be replace it. And that's why we had a very robust and interesting dialog. And even though I'm pro national healthcare of some sort, I am behind Mia. I think she gets it and she'll lend a very important voice to this critical debate.
I will continue my quest to bring awareness to cancer and pharmaceuticals and medical care and research in any way I can. I am one very small voice in this arena but I have a story and a voice and I will shout as loud and as often as I can.
So just a quick shout-out to Mia. Thank you for listening and talking. I am a huge fan and I'll be voting for you in November!