POLITICS

Stephanie Miller Thanks Obama For Health Care, Discusses Sister's Struggle With Cancer

07/05/2012 07:30 pm ET | Updated Jul 06, 2012

President Barack Obama received a hug from a sobbing woman while working the rope after a campaign event in Sandusky, Ohio, on Thursday. Stephanie Miller, whose 37-year-old sister, Kelly Hines, died of colon cancer four years ago, got a chance to personally thank the president for passing the health care law that the Supreme Court upheld last week.

Soon to start a job as a corrections officer at a state prison in Ohio, Miller suddenly found herself in the national press, after a White House pool reporter spotted and wrote about her encounter with the president. The Huffington Post contacted Miller who shared her full story.

Miller recounted her brief exchange with the president, in which Obama told her he was sorry to hear about her sister's death, and that he would keep Hines in his thoughts.

"He said he would keep on fighting for us -- and that our fight is not over," Miller told HuffPost.

Miller said her sister was uninsured when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Hines, a single mother working to support two young sons, applied for Medicaid but was told she did not meet the program's financial requirements. Hines soon began a new job where she was given employer-sponsored health care coverage, but as a new employee she needed to be present in the workplace, which ultimately interfered with her cancer treatment.

Hines clocked anywhere from 40 to 80 hours a week, despite her weakening condition. "She worked until she couldn't anymore so that she could provide for her kids," said Miller.

Following a 15-month struggle, Hines succumbed to the disease -- leaving behind her sons, 10 and 15, at the time.

According to Miller, the Affordable Care Act could have saved her sister's life. A working mother of three, Miller told HuffPost neither she nor her two younger daughters, ages 22 and 20, have health insurance. Her new employer will not provide coverage until she completes a one-year probationary period. Meanwhile, Miller said her medical bills are "racking up."

Miller now eagerly awaits the day when her insurance will kick in so that her daughters can stay on her health care plan until the age of 26, thanks to a provision under the president's health care law and last week's Supreme Court ruling.

Asked how she reacted to the news that the Affordable Care Act would be upheld, an emotional Miller recalled a roller coaster of emotions.

"Oh my God, I blew up my Facebook page congratulating President Obama [and] thanking him," she said. "It was a historic day for our country."

"We needed that desperately," Miller continued. "I know what it's like to watch somebody that you love die from a disease that had they been able to have health care [coverage], they could still be here. Nobody should ever have to go through that. Her sons should not have to suffer without their mother."

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