Eleven years ago, I received a letter from Natoma Canfield, a self-employed, 50-year-old woman in Medina, Ohio. We were in the middle of trying to pass the Affordable Care Act, and Natoma—a breast cancer survivor—wanted me to know that because she had a preexisting condition, she was on the verge of no longer being able to afford health coverage and needed help. 
What struck me most about Natoma’s letter was that she had done everything right. She had paid her premiums on time. She had worked hard to support herself. But through no fault of her own, her rates kept skyrocketing and she was on the verge of losing her home. Her story embodied what the Affordable Care Act was designed to fix. 
I took Natoma’s letter into a meeting of health insurance executives and read it to them. Then we decided to hold a rally near where she lived, and invited her and her sister to take part. Natoma’s story helped persuade her local member of Congress to switch to a “Yes” vote on health care reform. And later, I was able to thank her at the White House and show her where I hung the letter near the Oval Office. Her letter now hangs in my personal office. 
On Friday, Natoma passed away after several years of treatment for leukemia. Today, I’m thinking about her and her family, especially her sister Connie. By telling her story, Natoma helped make a difference in the lives of so many like her, and she will remain an inspiration to me for years to come.


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