House State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee
January 13, 2011
Hi, my name is Hillary St.Pierre. I’m here to testify against the passage of HB 89. The new health law needs to remain in place in NH.
Please excuse any difficulties I may have, I had a surgical procedure and received chemotherapy on Monday to treat my Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
I was diagnosed with lymphoma 4.5 years ago when I was a newlywed with a young child beginning my career as a registered nurse.
I thought upon diagnosis that I would never have to battle for health insurance coverage since I was an RN and my husband is an aerospace engineer with an established career and what we still consider good coverage.
I was better prepared for cancer than any other 23 year old I have ever met, but if it were not for the new health law eliminating lifetime limits on insurance coverage and regulating annual limits, I may not have received chemotherapy on Monday. I would not have been able to undergo a necessary surgical procedure, because I am threatened with exceeded my lifetime limit.
I have undergone countless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and two bone marrow transplants. The treatment of my cancer as a chronic disease, using routine low dose chemotherapy agents, is tough on my body but it is what will allow me to survive as long as possible.
It has allowed me to see my child grow from 2 years to seven. It has also allowed me to share my story and counsel countless others who have been diagnosed with cancer and to advocate for a stronger, safer health system.
I am thankful for the new health law, because I no longer have to live in fear my fight will be ended because of an insurance company’s bottom line.
During my battle, I have lost the ability to feel my hands and feet. I have lost 2/3 of my lung capacity. I’ve lost the ability to practice a career I love. I’ve lost the possibility of ever owning a home, but I have survived.
Without the new health law, trying to pay out of pocket for my healthcare expenses would not solely bankrupt me and ruin my credit, it would kill me by forcing me to choose between medications and food and shelter.
Even if I found a way to continue chemo, such as through cost shifting to Medicaid or Medicare, just one of my prescriptions costs over $700 monthly, and I take 20 medications daily.
Repealing the new health law is not a cost effective option for NH or its citizens.
After a recent severe attack of graft vs. host of the eye, where my left eye swelled shut from microscopic particles scratching and inflaming my tissue, threatening my sight, I was offered the cure through an off-label trial at the cost of $150 every three weeks.
We've reached the point where the hypothetical health question, "If the cure for cancer existed would anybody be able to afford it?" can be answered.
That answer is no.
Please look around the room. Look to your right and left. One in two males and 1 in 3 females will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. No one knows who will be affected next, and no one can predict how their treatment will be covered.
If a young RN, who graduated valedictorian of her class, and her aerospace engineer husband cannot afford to get sick, no one can. This could easily be any one of you or your parent or your child in my position, please think about how you would like them protected and vote against HB 89.