Guest Column: Ithaca resident invites Speaker Paul Ryan to pay for cancer drug

A longtime Ithaca resident wrote to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to offer a way he could redeem himself in the wake of this month’s tax reform bill. We reprint her letter here with her permission.

Honorable Paul Ryan
1233 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Ryan:

I know you are proud beyond measure of the tax reform bill you and your colleagues have just rammed through Congress, just in time to give your fellow Americans a stocking full of toxic coal for Christmas.

The new law is a scam, a shame, and a disgrace. It’s proof positive — as if any of us have doubted this for the past nine years — that in your minds progress equals lining already enriched pockets and sticking it to hardworking people everywhere who did not happen to be born with silver spoons in our mouths.

But I have an idea that may afford you an opportunity to redeem yourself, just a little.

Normally, I wouldn’t ask, because I have never been one who asks for handouts, and I’ve earned with my own hard work every penny I ever made.

But now that you are planning to go to the next draconian step of gutting Medicare and Medicaid, while your Congressional insurance package remains fat, I thought this might be an appropriate time to ask you for a small favor.

It would be a very small favor on your part, and make all the difference in the world to me.

I’m currently undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer I didn’t even know existed before I was diagnosed with it in November, before which I spent 66 years on this planet in blessedly good health.

And my problem is that, although I am one of the fortunate ones — I have Medicare and a decent Part B and Part D — there is one drug in my regimen that is over-the-moon expensive, and it’s been approved by my insurance company (thank you), but I still have to cover the copay gap. This will amount in my case to a total of approximately $64,800 over the course of my treatment.

I’ve been lucky enough to identify some agencies that award grants for copay assistance, and I must say everyone has been extremely kind and helpful.

But I have an idea that would solve my problem quickly and effectively. Since you’ve gotten your way with the 1 percent, at the expense of the rest of us, would you consider footing the bill for my drug?

I’m sure $64,800 doesn’t strike you as all that much money, and you probably think I should have invested my earnings more wisely or I wouldn’t have this problem now.

In fact, I’ve invested and saved, and kept my monthly debt to zero for many years, and I am so much better off than millions of other Americans.

But I won’t be for long, if I can’t raise the money to pay for my treatments.

So maybe you can pass the hat around to your GOP buddies in Congress, while you’re busy patting yourselves on the back for your “promise kept.” I’m sure that among you, you can cobble together a measly $64K for a woman in need.

I expect you’ll be receiving a lot of letters like this, because you see, I am but one of many millions of people in our country suffering with illnesses that are expensive to treat who lack the resources to fund treatment.

When I beat this disease — with or without your help — and I will beat it, I am considering starting yet another organization to fill the vacuum left by our government. Thank goodness for the hearts that still beat among private individuals and foundations in our still-great country.

And, next November 6, it will be my business, and that of just about every other conscientious American I know, to see that Congress is filled with representatives and senators who actually care about representing the people who sent them there.

But you still have a chance to surprise me! Do me a solid. After all, it’s only money.


Rachel Hockett

This guest column is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of 14850 Magazine or its affiliates or advertisers. Letters and columns may be submitted to

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