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The First Family's Brush with Serious Illness and the Healthcare System

From Michelle Obama's interview on MSNBC:

“I will never forget. It was a day when, you know, one hour she was fine, she was normal, she was happy, doing everything I was used to her doing and the next hour she was crying inconsolably, and that just wasn’t like her. And I did everything,” she said. “I tried to do – tried to feed her, tried to rock her, tried to burp her. Finally, I just thought, I need to call my pediatrician.”

“We had health insurance, which meant I had a really good relationship with our pediatrician. So he knew me, and he knew I wasn’t the kind of mother to call up just because my baby was crying,” she continued, adding that after she described the baby’s symptoms, he insisted they rush to the emergency room.

“As it turned out, she had meningitis. And they had to do a spinal tap. She turned out – obviously, as this story ends, she is fine, she’s healthy, she’s a beautiful young lady, but if we hadn’t had insurance, and access to a pediatrician, and access to a hospital where we didn’t have to worry about the cost of care… If we had waited overnight, if we had postponed acting, there’s no telling what the outcome would’ve been,” she said. “And that’s why for me as a mother, I am just – you know, I just can’t put into words how important it is for every American, for every mother, for every person in this country to have health care, because you just never know what kind of curveballs life is going to throw you.”

It’s not the first time the Obama family has talked about Sasha’s illness. The topic came up during the 2012 campaign when the president dined with supporters. “Your world narrows to this very small point,” he said of the experience. “There’s one thing you care about, you don’t care about anything else.”


I'm married to a pediatrician, this story is not anything like an unusual one for me to hear. But the fact that the people living in the White House are telling it is very heartening to me. Every American with children should have "a really good relationship with our pediatrician." And now many don't, and many have no relationship at all. And the ACA isn't going to fix that entirely, but I'm convinced it's going to make things better than they are now.

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