Remember President Barack Obama’s mother? Though the airwaves currently echo with his vow “If you like your plan . . .” I keep remembering Obama’s account of his mother being denied coverage by her insurance company as she lay dying of cancer.
The moving and infuriating story was a staple on the 2008 campaign trail. His mother had insurance, he explained, but when she came down with cancer, her insurance company claimed her disease was a “pre-existing condition” and refused to pay for her treatment. In a debate with Sen. John McCain, Obama said: “For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.”
There would be, if it had been true. But when New York Times reporter Janny Scott researched the issue for her biography of the president’s mother, she discovered letters proving beyond doubt that Cigna never denied Stanley Ann Dunham coverage for her disease. The dispute was over a disability plan that would have paid some of her other expenses.
The White House did not deny Scott’s account, but shrugged it off as something that had happened long ago. Not so long that it couldn’t be milked one last time though, for a 2012 campaign film.