Local Politics

Raleigh woman talks health care with Obama

Posted December 19, 2013

— A Raleigh woman's firsthand experience with navigating the health care system led to a face-to-face meeting Wednesday with President Barack Obama about the impact of health care reform on families.

Felicia Willems was among eight mothers from across the country invited to the White House to talk with first lady Michelle Obama and the president, who then enlisted them in a grassroots effort to get as many people enrolled for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

"They did encourage us to go out and ask other moms and families to check out their options to get enrolled," Willems said Thursday, adding that she is planning a series of "health care house parties" around the Triangle in January to spread the word.

Willems' 7-year-old son, Ethan, was born with a rare tumor that required him to start chemotherapy when he was 12 weeks old. She had to quit her job to care for him and lost the health coverage that went with it. Since then, Ethan's pre-existing condition has made getting health coverage a dicey proposition for the family.

"For the rest of his life, he will have a pre-existing condition," she said.

The Affordable Care Act changed that, however, by prohibiting insurers from disqualifying people from coverage because of previous health problems.

"It means peace of mind," Willems said. "We’re able to go out and buy health insurance and know we’re not going be charged more or flat out denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions."

Felicia Willems of Moms Rising Raleigh woman backs health care law because of personal experiences

As a member of grassroots group Moms Rising, she has been vocal about health care reform.

"Moms are the primary decision makers when it comes to health care in households," she said. "I feel like moms really get it. They understand the importance of making sure you’re covered."

The Obamas said that's why they invited the women to the White House to discuss the progress of the Affordable Care Act, which has been plagued by problems since the government launched its enrollment website in October.

"It's our job as mothers to make sure that our young people are informed about their invincibility, to make sure that other moms and families out there really understand what this law provides," Michelle Obama said.

Willems called the Obamas "gracious," saying they related a story about the health problems one of their daughters had when she was little.

"They were generally interested to hear from moms," she said.

The president even wrote Ethan a thank you note for the Christmas card he made and gave to his mother to take to the White House.

Willems said the growth and success of the Affordable Care Act is critical to the nation's future.

"Everybody needs health care because, as I learned, sometimes even a newborn doesn’t come out perfect," she said.


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  • Ex-Republican Dec 20, 2013

    How much more millions will Obama waste on convincing people to sign up for ObamaCare?

  • bluegray Dec 20, 2013

    I was just on the site signing in last night and I can navigate through it as fast or faster than EBay or Amazon.
    I think some of the "problems" may be related to people with slow internet connections.
    My spouse has insurance at work and we are right on the income cutoff so we are forced to keep my spouses employer's plan.

  • A person Dec 20, 2013

    Can't imagine being so bored that I would waste an afternoon with him in that place

  • bmac813 Dec 20, 2013

    Wake up Ladies, he is a Liar.

  • foodstamptrader Dec 20, 2013

    "Why in the world would that happen? Literally nothing at all changes "next summer"" - Junkmail5

    Maybe not next summer but by fall it will be interesting.

    1. The 1 year allowance for renewal of pre-Obama policies will be expiring at year end, so privately insured individuals will be forced back onto the Obama marketplace to obtain a lousy Obama policy. The sticker shock will set in anew!

    2. The 1 year waiver for those getting cancelled to avoid the IRS fines will be coming to an end. These folks will now be pressured into buying expensive Obama polices. See above.

    3. The 1 year deferral of the large employer mandate will be coming to a close, and companies will be scrambling to comply with Dear Leader's mandates.

    4. Best of all: the insurers will be posting their 2015 prices for Obama policies, and with all that has happened the rate shock will be breathtaking. This will probably happen in October, just in time for mid-Terms.


  • glarg Dec 20, 2013

    So Obama is hiding out afraid to talk to anyone but hand picked supporters. And at carefully staged manged press events.

    How fitting that the the mic extensions in the AP picture look like bars keeping the common people back from King Obama. He really is getting more and more delusional.

  • A person Dec 20, 2013

    1 more year and we can start cleaning this mess up and repeal every part of it, getting Barack into his place (hopefully a small prison cell)

  • WralCensorsAreBias Dec 19, 2013

    What a joke, if she is now the local "mouthpiece" for this train wreck then it is obvious how much trouble they are in. I saw her on the news last night, acting like she's somebody. But she's clearly not. Maybe she should let her lying Commander in Chief know that we aren't going to be sitting around talking about his lies, pajama boy or any of this train wreck he mandated through those lies, and without a single opposition vote I might add, and that he just needs to mandate the fixes and lock those up that don't comply. Insurance companies, American citizens, sick people, well people, any and all. This is his and the Dems disaster. They own it and will always own it.

    Until we win next Fall and move towards finally repealing it all or in part.

  • mep Dec 19, 2013


    The Heritage plan went no further than a proposal.

    You missed all of my most recent ideas that were in fact REJECTED by Democrats when Obamacare was being written. The GOP does not have a n all encompassing plan... but piecemeal ideas for expanded health coverage. The GOP plan would work far better than the current mess we now call Obamacare... with fewer people losing coverage, plans they like, doctors and paying more. LOL!!!!

  • mep Dec 19, 2013


    Then we can agree.... NONE of the GOP ideas exist in the Obamacare law because of Democrats. And Obamacare itself exists ONLY because of Democrats. So Democrats fully own this train wreck... and those elections the GOP need to win are just around the corner... just in time for the millions of employer mandate policy cancellations and next years premiums rate hikes. THANKS!

    No one to blame but Obamacare for the next shellacking.... remember 2010 midterms... most seats lost by a party since 1938??? LOL!