Speed Reads

rest in peace

Natoma Canfield, woman who became face of the Affordable Care Act, dies at 61

Natoma Canfield, the Ohio woman whose letter to former President Barack Obama about her struggles to pay insurance premiums inspired him to fight for the Affordable Care Act, has died. She was 61.

Canfield, a resident of Medina Township, died on June 18. In late 2009, she wrote a letter to Obama, telling him that she was a cancer survivor and because her premiums kept skyrocketing every year, she could no longer afford to pay for health insurance. Canfield shared with Obama that she was worried about becoming sick again, as well as losing her home. Her letter moved Obama, and he read it to insurance executives during a meeting at the White House.

Canfield soon found herself the face of the Affordable Care Act, with Obama using her story to illustrate how hard it could be for people to afford health insurance, especially those who were sick. "I carried Natoma's story with me every day of the fight to pass the law," Obama said in 2012. "It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well."

She was in the hosptial when Obama signed the ACA into law, but Canfield's sister Connie attended the event in her place. Obama framed Canfield's letter and placed it in the Oval Office, and she was eventually able to visit Washington to see it in person. Obama tweeted on Wednesday that by telling her story, Canfield "helped us pass the Affordable Care Act. She was an inspiration to me and so many others, which is why her letter still hangs in my office. Michelle and I send our condolences to Natoma's family."