Democrats Continue Full Court Press for Health Care Reform Votes

In final push, Obama illustrates health care crisis with one Ohio woman.

ByABC News
March 14, 2010, 7:45 PM

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio, March 15, 2010— -- In what could be a make-or-break week for health care overhaul, a fiery President Obama made a passionate plea for Congress to pass controversial legislation by highlighting the struggle of an Ohio woman facing a serious illness without health insurance.

Natoma Canfield, 50, is a cleaning woman and cancer survivor from Medina, Ohio, who had to drop her Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance because her monthly premiums kept skyrocketed.

Obama has been telling her story across the nation and today he made her an emotional and key part of his final push to get health care reform legislation passed.

You want to know why I'm here, Ohio? I'm here because of Natoma," a candidate-like Obama leaning close to the microphone yelled. "I'm here because of the countless others who have been forced to face the most terrifying challenges in their lives with the added burden of medical bills they can't pay. I don't think that's right."

As intense negotiations continue back in Washington, Obama implored members of Congress to have "courage" and saying that passing health care reform legislation is "the right thing to do" for the American people.

"I want some courage! I want us to do the right thing, Ohio!" a fired-up Obama declared to thunderous applause from the audience.

Canfield told ABC News that she could no longer afford to keep her health insurance.

"I went into debt trying to keep coverage when it was $500 a month, and I couldn't do it anymore at $700 a month," she said.

After the president started telling her story, Canfield's tale became even more dire.

Canfield is now back in the hospital after more than a decade being cancer-free. She was diagnosed with leukemia last week.

"Everything just kind of went blue and grey and I lost sight. I almost collapsed," said Canfield, whose insurance expired in January.

"The thing I was most afraid of has happened sooner than I thought," Canfield said. "What if there would be a catastrophe and I was in the hospital and had some pretty big medical bills."

The White House had invited Canfield to introduce the president today in Cleveland, but Canfield's sister traveled from Florida to fill in for her.

"The reason Natoma is not here today is that she's lying in a hospital bed, suddenly faced with this emergency -- suddenly faced with the fight of her life," Obama said. "She expects to face a month or more of aggressive chemotherapy. She's racked with worry not only about her illness but about the cost of the tests and treatments she will surely going to need to beat it."

Obama used Canfield's story today to argue that health care reform cannot be delayed any longer and starting over, as some Republicans have called for, is not feasible.

"When you hear people say 'start over' -- I want you to think of Natoma. When you hear people saying that this isn't the 'right time' -- you think about what she's going through," the president said. "When you hear people more worried about the politics of it than what's right and what's wrong, I want you to think about Natoma and the millions of people all across this country who are looking for some help, and looking for some relief. That's why we need health insurance reform right now."