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."
Former President Theodore Roosevelt champions national health insurance as he unsuccessfully tries to ride his progressive Bull Moose Party back to the White House. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt favors creating national health insurance amid the Great Depression but decides to push for Social Security first. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Roosevelt establishes wage and price controls during World War II. Businesses can't attract workers with higher pay so they compete through added benefits, including health insurance, which grows into a workplace perk. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
President Harry Truman calls on Congress to create a national insurance program for those who pay voluntary fees. The American Medical Association denounces the idea as "socialized medicine" and it goes nowhere. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
John F. Kennedy makes health care a major campaign issue but as president can't get a plan for the elderly through Congress. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
President Lyndon B. Johnson's legendary arm-twisting and a Congress dominated by his fellow Democrats lead to creation of two landmark government health programs: Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
President Richard Nixon wants to require employers to cover their workers and create federal subsidies to help everyone else buy private insurance. The Watergate scandal intervenes. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
President Jimmy Carter pushes a mandatory national health plan, but economic recession helps push it aside. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
President Ronald Reagan signs COBRA, a requirement that employers let former workers stay on the company health plan for 18 months after leaving a job, with workers bearing the cost. (MIKE SARGENT/AFP/Getty Images)
Congress expands Medicare by adding a prescription drug benefit and catastrophic care coverage. It doesn't last long. Barraged by protests from older Americans upset about paying a tax to finance the additional coverage, Congress repeals the law the next year. (TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Bill Clinton puts first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in charge of developing what becomes a 1,300-page plan for universal coverage. It requires businesses to cover their workers and mandates that everyone have health insurance. The plan meets Republican opposition, divides Democrats and comes under a firestorm of lobbying from businesses and the health care industry. It dies in the Senate. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Clinton signs bipartisan legislation creating a state-federal program to provide coverage for millions of children in families of modest means whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid. (JAMAL A. WILSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President George W. Bush persuades Congress to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare in a major expansion of the program for older people. (STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Hillary Rodham Clinton promotes a sweeping health care plan in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. She loses to Obama, who has a less comprehensive plan. (PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress spend an intense year ironing out legislation to require most companies to cover their workers; mandate that everyone have coverage or pay a fine; require insurance companies to accept all comers, regardless of any pre-existing conditions; and assist people who can't afford insurance. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
With no Republican support, Congress passes the measure, designed to extend health care coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people. Republican opponents scorned the law as "Obamacare." (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
On a campaign tour in the Midwest, Obama himself embraces the term "Obamacare" and says the law shows "I do care." (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)