MESH Member Meets President Obama

Kelly FraaschMESH member Kelly Fraasch was among those selected to meet President Obama on Thursday (August 20, 2009). Kelly was selected based on her touching health care story and her work on the Health Care Declarations project with MESH and Organizing for America. She is also the founder and leader of the Parent Resource Network. That's her just to the left of Obama's podium, seated next to Mitch Stewart.

Here is Kelly's story...

Hello Friends and Family:

Most of you have heard that I had the amazing opportunity to shake hands with President Barack Obama (TWICE) yesterday.

I firmly believe through my experience of having two preemies that our health care system needs to change.

Families should be spending time together in the dire moments of having a critically ill child and not worrying about working and possibly losing health insurance. As the President said yesterday, he supports affordable health insurance that anyone can purchase whether you have a job or not. If this would have been possible 8 years ago, James would have been able to leave his job in DC and be with Taylor and me in Chicago (she was born unexpectedly while I was visiting my parents). We wouldn’t have had to make incredibly difficult decisions over the phone, James wouldn’t have had to take emergency flights that cost hundreds of dollars for only one way, and we wouldn’t have had to borrow money from family and friends. However more importantly, I wouldn’t have had to worry each and everyday about the possibility of Taylor passing away without her father at her bedside for four months.

Taylor at one monthWe also found that even though we had good health insurance, we fought with our health insurance company for years over various loop holes and preexisting conditions. Financially we were devastated and still reap the financial debt from Taylor’s birth after 8 years. We hope to one day be caught up before she would end up responsible for our financial debt. So between wanting to spend time with our children, we became focused on the bills and insurance paperwork. All of this was especially hard on our marriage and our young family as we fought to survive. We were very fortune in 2004 to make a huge change and move to PA in order to afford a home and have some financial relief. President Obama addressed the concerns about preexisting conditions and certain loop holes that we fell into would no longer be possible, according to the principles that he has outlined.

We started to see some relief with Taylor’s health issues when she was two years old. Her trach and oxygen were no longer required, her vision was improving (she was blind for her first year or so) and she was beginning to hit some milestones. By her third birthday I was worried that she would no longer qualify for a drug under our insurance company. I begged with them for weeks that she needed to be covered. With all of her great progress it would be a shame to watch it thrown away with a life threatening illness from the lack of having this particular vaccine. We were still denied and once again faced with the hardship of paying for the drug that was nearly $2000.00 a month for 5 months. We made a decision that no parent should have to make and we simply could not afford it. She nearly lost her life just three months later, and it nearly destroyed us all.

How can we live in a system that allowed for this to happen? Saving just $2000.00 a month, cost our insurance company two and a half months of ICU care and other long-term specialty care to get Taylor back on track. As a mother, I will never forgive myself for the suffering Taylor endured those months and know that I am not alone in this country for making such difficult decisions. Yesterday we didn’t hear specifics on medication coverage except for seniors, but I think this is a good example of health care gone wrong. Plus the many expenses that could be avoided if our health care would become more focused on prevention rather intervention.

Taylor at 6 yearsWe need a change and I believe that Organizing for America has the vision from President Obama’s main principles to make the change that families like ours needed in the last eight years.

If you feel the same way as I do and believe in health care reform, please join a petition that is being signed to let President Obama and leaders of our country know that we need to make a change in our healthcare system.

See http://mesh.bittsburgh.com/projects/Declarations for some more information. In the third paragraph there is a link to download the Health Care Declarations pdf file.

This link is leading you into a MESH website which is Pittsburgh’s South Hills project that is supporting President Obama's outreach projects to our area, please learn more about them while you are on their website.

To know more about Organizing for America see http://my.barackobama.org.

So to answer your question, I have not washed my right hand yet and my mind is still running a mile a minute. So please forgive any errors in my message.

Kelly Fraasch