White House Spokesman Sparks Outrage Over Comments About Cancer Patient

Image: White House Spokesman Sparks Outrage Over Comments About Cancer Patient

Tuesday, 05 Nov 2013 11:15 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Twitter lit up over White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer's statement blaming a Stage 4 cancer patient and insurance companies — instead of the president's signature legislation — for the woman losing the coverage that has kept her alive despite a dire prognosis.

Late Monday, Pfeiffer — under his Twitter tag @pfeiffer44 — tweeted a link to a story posted on the ultra-liberal blog "Think Progress," titled "The Real Reason That The Cancer Patient Writing in Today's Wall Street Journal Lost Her Insurance."

Ignoring the mandated changes under Obamacare, the story blamed United Healthcare for Edie Littlefield Sundby's problems, saying the company has struggled for years in California's individual-policyholder market and that it no longer wanted to foot the bill for the sickest patients.

Pfeiffer's is an official Twitter account, used to speak on behalf of the administration.

Urgent: ObamaCare Is About to Strike — Are You Prepared?

His account was besieged with responses. Angry tweeters retweeted the responses of others, starting a firestorm in cyberspace

Conservative writer Kristinn Taylor called Pfeiffer out:

He was only one of many:

Californian Sundby became a poster child for Obamacare's ills when The Wall Street Journal published her letter about how she is on the cusp of losing her life-saving coverage — provided by a world-class team of doctors from three hospitals — despite the president's repeated promises to the contrary.

Her plan does not meet Affordable Care Act standards.

"My grievance is not political; all my energies are directed to enjoying life and staying alive, and I have no time for politics," Sundby wrote. "For almost seven years I have fought and survived Stage 4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2 percent after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31."

She is one of thousands across the country receiving similar letters from their current insurance carriers, despite President Barack Obama's assertions that under Obamacare, "If you like your insurance, you can keep it" and "If you like your doctors, you can keep them."

Over the years, Sundby has undergone chemotherapy and high-intensity radiation that helped eradicate an inoperable liver tumor. She had a large portion of her right lung removed. The treatment bought her seven years.

Urgent: ObamaCare Is About to Strike — Are You Prepared?

But now Sundby worries her time is up.

Her options: Get coverage through the government healthcare exchange and lose access to her cancer doctors, or pay 50 percent more for insurance outside the exchange and start over "with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits."

United has paid out $1.2 million for Sundby's care since 2007, according to the International Business Times. Sundby is one of 8,000 Californians who will be impacted when United pulls out of the individual health insurance market.

Sundby can enroll in an Obamacare plan but she can say good-bye to the successful treatment that has kept her alive, Forbes reports.

"Her treatment program involves doctors at both the Stanford and UC San Diego medical centers, and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas — but there is no plan in the California exchange that includes both Stanford and UCSD centers in its network, much less M.D. Anderson. In fact, UCSD has joined only one provider network, and it's a heretofore almost unknown type called an "Exclusive Provider Organization" (EPO). The "exclusive" means that in an EPO, coverage is provided exclusively within the network — there is no out-of-network coverage, except what uninsured people get at the emergency room."

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