"Art is a kind of illness." — Giacomo Puccini

Thanks, Obama!

Ronald Landes


To all my friends and others moaning and groaning about their $5000 deductible, let me assure you that when you have a life-threatening illness that you are able to get treated because of your lousy Obamacare plan, I will be happy to help you find a way to pay that $5000.

You see, I lost my only brother to cancer about 25 years ago. He was 22. His employer didn’t provide him with insurance, paid him too little to buy his own, and too much to qualify for MediCal. He had a tumor so large he could only wear sweatpants, but he didn’t have health insurance, so he was denied any treatment for his alarming condition until my mom and I took him into the ER at UCSD Medical Center one afternoon literally spitting up blood. At that point, he was deemed disabled, put on MediCal and Medicare, and received decent care from heroic doctors and nurses who probably could have saved his life if he was able to see them before his cancer reached stage 4, a terminal diagnosis.

I was at his bedside in his last moments struggling to breathe as the tumors that metastasized to his lungs literally suffocated him in his own blood. I will never forget it, and I would never wish that gruesome experience on anybody else simply because they couldn’t get “affordable” healthcare.

I assure you that my brother’s life was worth way more than $5000, and we would have hammered mountains into sand to find a way to pay that significant, but comparatively small, amount to keep him with us. I will do the same for you, and maybe then when you moan, “thanks, Obama!” you will mean it.

Is the law perfect? No, and for obvious reasons, but until we can fix that, you might just end up surviving for the low price of $5000. I happen to think your life is worth it.

Now go ahead and unfriend me if you want to. My conscience is clean. — feeling dismayed.

Originally posted this on Facebook on March 31, 2014. It has since been deleted. However, I fully own these words, so I decided to post this here, as well.

UPDATE: Unbeknownst to me, my cousin copied these words and sent them to President Obama in a personal letter. I cannot begin to express my shock when she called one evening to tell me she had done so, and further informed me she had received a written response from the President. Here it is:

Letter from President Obama

The preventable loss of my brother’s life was one of the greatest tragedies in the life of my siblings, and certainly my parents. Even though it has been some time, we were deeply touched to receive this personal acknowledgment of our family’s loss from the President of the United States. It is tragic that healthcare is a somehow a political issue in the United States. It is time we followed the example set by other great nations where healthcare is a civil right. I hope that someday our nation will come to its senses, and the Affordable Care Act will merely be the first step toward a single-payer system, which is ultimately the way to provide healthcare to everybody while controlling costs by eliminating insurance companies and lawyers from the cost equations. There is a better way.

Thank you, Annette. I really love you a lot!

  • Annette on

    Whew!!!!!!!!!!!! looking at that picture of that handsome young man, who was taken from us too soon, brings instant tears to my eyes.
    Your words touch my soul, Kenny. I am so proud of you and it is an honor to call you my cousin and my friend.
    Love you!

  • Mike Brostrom on

    Thank you Kenny,
    You may not acknowledge it but we are brothers two times over, and while I rejoice with you over todays victory. I am reminded of the reason why I have to brake down the numbers because our opponents do not sleep and may be still tryint to spin this in their favor. Your tale like others you have told me puts a face and feelings to this strugle and give me meaning.

    Take care Kenny

    Mike “Ox” Brostrom

    • Kenny on

      Thanks, Mike, I appreciate it. I think a lof of the political arguments of our time could be resolved if we started approaching the problems people face a human needs rather than simply forcing untested or disproven ideologies forward regardless of the impact on the very people government is supposed to serve.

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