ObamaCare Killed My Brother in Law

September 24, 2013


ObamaCare killed my brother in law, Dr. Philip Henderson, III of Longview. Here’s a letter I wrote to the email set up to tell our ObamaCare stories: obamacare@mail.house.gov. Add yours in the comments of this website if you can.

Dear Congress,

I hope you de-fund and kill ObamaCare. 

ObamaCare killed my brother in law.  

An outrageous thing to say? Listen to this shortened version of this story and see if you don’t agree.

My brother in law, Dr. Philip Henderson, III of Longview, Washington, was a fourth generation doctor in this medium sized logging town in Cowlitz County in Southwest Washington. He was responsible for bringing 6,000 babies into this world. He started programs to help poor women receive prenatal care, helped out at a free clinic he helped start, gave thousands of hours –totaling five years–of his own, unpaid time to cover OB-GYN emergencies at the local hospital AND he volunteered for ten years at both local high schools to give teens “the talk.” He lobbied Senators and Congressional reps in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to slow the debilitating effects of ObamaCare on women’s health care in Washington State. 

He was a community treasure. Loved. Respected. See the stories about his life HERE,HERE, HERE, HEREHERE and there are many others. See the pictures attached.

In the past several months, ObamaCare “winner” and “survivor,” Kaiser, ended its contract with Dr. Henderson’s four partner OB-GYN clinic, Lower Columbia Women’s Clinic, and decided to take over the thousands of patients this local practice had built up over decades. This move was designed to consolidate care necessitated by the constraints of ObamaCare. And this meant that many patients would now have to travel 40 minutes south to

A spontaneous memorial appeared outside of the Lower Columbia Women's Clinic after word spread of Dr. Henderson's death.
A spontaneous memorial appeared outside of the Lower Columbia Women’s Clinic after word spread of Dr. Henderson’s death.

Vancouver, Washington to receive care. My brother-in-law’s practice would lose their patients. More important, their patients would not be able to keep their doctor–a promise made by the President about ObamaCare. 

Stay with me. 

During these difficult negotiations, two of the partners decided to leave to seek greener pastures. They knew it would collapse the clinic, but, undaunted, Dr. Henderson and his remaining partner turned to the local hospitals they served to get a temporary financial life line until they could hire replacements and get the clinic whole again. The hospitals said no. ObamaCare was putting the hospital in a squeeze and they couldn’t afford to help the Doctors who had given thousands of hours of free care to the hospital’s–and City’s–patients. 

Under ObamaCare, you see, only the large survive. Or the people who can exempt themselves, like Congress. Or friends of people writing the bill who give their friends waivers, such as unions and big corporations. 

When local hospitals turned down the financial life line, Dr. Henderson began searching for jobs for his co workers. He made phone calls on their behalf and helped their job hunting efforts. But the clinic his great-grandfather had started generations before would die. 

Finally, when Dr. Henderson began looking for a position for himself, he was turned down. Under his proposal to Kaiser, for instance, Henderson could still see his–and Kaiser’s patients without them having to travel to get care. When he got the call turning him down, he emerged from his office shaking his head and said in a tone of voice his nurse had never heard before, “They don’t want me. No one wants a 63 year old doctor.”

Philip pic by patients2 tdn
Some of Dr. Henderson’s patients and some of the children he’s brought into the world, pose for a memorial photo following his death. The Daily News Photo.

The man who 20 years earlier had fought back and willed himself to walk after a devastating car accident and who worked hard to get back to his practice only to pour himself into his patients and his community, was a beaten man. It’s easy to see that now. It wasn’t in June. 

His wife and daughters surrounded him and began brainstorming ideas on what he could do to finish his career doing what he loved most: medicine. While he’d funded his own retirement and was only a few short years shy of that milestone, he still needed to work. He, like many Americans on their heels by the ongoing recession, had to keep working awhile longer. 

But the irony is when Dr. Henderson was ready to stand on his own feet, build on his own success, use his talent to embark on the last chapter of a spectacular career, it seemed everywhere he turned, ObamaCare was in the way. It was a huge stop sign on the bumpy road he, his clinic and his patients found themselves on. 

And he was heartbroken.

Then on June 7th, one week before his clinic closed, Philip took the Mossberg shotgun he bought to scare off a man who had been stalking a family member, and turned it on himself. 

The hard charging, can-do, lead-from-the-front, master-of-the-universe who fought hammer and tong for his patients, no longer had patients to fight for. 

ObamaCare had defeated him. 

Someone smart once said, “The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” 

ObamaCare turned a great man into no man. 

His family is devastated. His patients are sad and confused. 

This horrible economy has caused millions of people to lose hope. They’ve been so dispirited in some cases, that they’ve stopped looking for work or planning for success. They’re just trying to survive. ObamaCare has put another yoke on an already plodding economy. 

Not only is ObamaCare to blame for that, it now comes with a body count. 

For shame.

I hope you kill ObamaCare. It’s bad for liberty. It’s bad for America. 

Victoria Taft  
Broadcaster of the Year 
Twitter: @VictoriaTaft