Don’t It Make Your Wide Eyes Cry, Iowa? Another Cancer Patient Grovels

By Donna Smith –

Some patient stories just fill me with anger and shame. This one – from Iowa – is one of those stories. By now, we all know the plot. Patient has insurance. Patient gets sick. Patient cannot afford to keep insurance or find insurance that will cover illness. Patient goes without coverage. Providers demand up-front payment for cancer care. Patient calls on friends, family and community to help. Patient grovels. Cancer spreads. Patient grovels.

Ah, the mid-western values. This is Iowa. My mom was born in Boone during the Great Depression. Iowa is the place many think of when we think of those salt-of-the-earth, kind and hard-working Americans with traditional, perhaps even faith-based values. A kind and gentle place with a no-nonsense work-ethic. Iowa. Fields of farmers’ dreams and the stuff of mid-America at its finest.

So, why in Iowa should we allow Deb, a cancer patient who is currently receiving chemotherapy, to beg and grovel for her care?

Is her life less valuable than her two Senators’ lives? Come on, Senators Harkin and Grassley. Fess up. Is your constituent’s life less worthy of protection and care than your own? And what about you, President Obama? Didn’t the Iowans who braved the cold and ice of the primary day way back in 2008 help catapult you to the presidency? Deb’s vote sure as hell mattered then. What happened? When did Deb’s life become so expendable?

Do any of the leaders know what it feels like to face a cancer fight and have to come up with $2,000 up front every single month or be denied chemotherapy? Do they care enough to actually create a US healthcare system that would stop this horror from unfolding in Iowa?

Come on now, boys. And girls. This is clearly not rocket science. Other civilized countries have not abused their cancer patient like this for many years. We clearly could stop this through a proven and effective and enhanced Medicare for all. No more begging, groveling Iowa patients. No more providers booting patients like Deb to the curb to die. Just healthcare for all.

It’s the ethical, moral, economical and sensible way to go – so why are we stuck trying to have a bipartisan measure to keep the for-profit insurance companies, the pharmaceuticals and the big hospital corporations happy? I’ll tell you why. Because Deb isn’t invited to the summit. She’s back in Iowa raising money for her next round of chemo. Shame on us all.


  1. john on February 23, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    It’s the same old same old. People these days have little empathy unless it happens at home.To many are satisifed with “their”package and don’t want to rock the boat.
    It would be ironic if someday those who have suddenly wake up some day and find themselves a have not.
    maybe we can somehow make it into a war ,then there would be alot of fast money and quick action by congress and the president.

  2. Sarah Williams on February 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I hope everybody is calling their senators. I am calling mine regularly. Write on their Facebook walls. Send them a FAX. Write them letters. We really need to get this done.

  3. adam on March 2, 2010 at 2:44 am

    Harkin’s been strong on healthcare, supporting single-payer, even. Before the whole debate, I didn’t particularly mind Grassley… pretending to support a bipartisan proposal but having all intentions of voting against it? What bull. I’ll volunteer to get rid of him this year if I can!

    I wish our state legislature would be as bold as California’s.