President Obama's State of the Union address will likely see him highlight many policies he has managed to push through despite tough Republican opposition, and many more he has set his sights on in his last two years — like tax reform, a plan he is set to lay out in his speech. But to underscore the very human consequences that his bills have had, Obama's guest list has included every sort of representative for the issues he has focused on during his presidency. Among the varied individuals he has invited to the event is Astrid Muhammad, who said Obamacare saved her life from a brain tumor.
Muhammad, a wife and mother of two who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, wrote in a letter to Obama that when she was diagnosed in May 2013, a lack of health insurance saw her medical treatment delayed. But it could have been much more fatal if not for Obamacare, she detailed, as pre-Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were allowed to refuse covering treatment for preexisting conditions, including her tumor.
Then last year, Muhammad, who along with her husband, is self-employed, signed up for health insurance under Obamacare, and five months ago, fully insured, she underwent a procedure that successfully removed the tumor from her brain, effectively saving her life.
Her invitation to the SOTU event was a huge surprise, Muhammad told Channel 9, as she thought Obama's intention in contacting her initially was merely to feature her on the White House blog promoting the Affordable Health Care Act.
I got a call, and I was told he did read the letter, and I was like, "Really? He reads those letters?" And he said he wanted to put me as one of the "Faces of Health Care." I thought that was the end of it. I had my letter from him. I was on the "Faces of Health Care" page so to get this invitation was beyond anything I expected.
Muhammad's presence will be important as an Obamacare success story, as Republicans, who now dominate Congress, have vowed to repeal the legislation, though having backtracked since. Many remain in staunch opposition to the legislation despite indications that Obamacare has been a success — both for American states and individuals.
However, Muhammad said she would rather keep out of the partisan politics surrounding the bill.
Everyone has their opinions about it, which they're definitely entitled to. It benefited me, and that is what I'm concerned with.
On Tuesday night, Muhammad will have the chance to meet Obama and thank him personally, something she wrote in her letter that she'd love to be able to do — though she did express her nervousness to Channel 9:
I'm hoping I don't pass out. This is still pretty emotional for me. I don't know what will happen. Whatever will be will be natural and it will just be from the heart.