An open letter to Heather Bresch

Dear Heather Bresch,

You lived in Morgantown. I did, too: born and raised. My parents are retired from the university you attended. My elementary school took field trips to Mylan labs. They were shining, optimistic.

You’re from West Virginia. I am, too. This means we both know something of the coal industry that has both sustained and destroyed our home. You know, as I do, how many miners have been killed in explosions: trapped underground when a pocket of methane ignites. We both know that miners long carried safety lamps: carefully shielded but raw flames that would go out when the oxygen went too low, a warning to get away — if they had not first exploded, as open flames around methane do. Perhaps you know, as I only recently learned, that miners were once required to buy their own safety lamps: so when safer ones came out, ones that would only warn without killing you first, miners did not carry them. They couldn’t afford to. They set probability against their lives, went without the right equipment, and sometimes lost, and died.

I’m a mother. You are, too. I don’t know if your children carry medication for life-threatening illnesses; I hope you have not had to face that. I have. In our case it’s asthma, not allergies, and an inhaler, not an Epi-Pen. It’s a $20 copay with our insurance and lasts for dozens of doses. It doesn’t stop asthma attacks once they start — my daughter’s asthma is too severe for that — but sometimes it prevents them. And when it does not, it still helps: we spend two days in the hospital instead of five; we don’t go to the ICU. (Have you ever been with your child in a pediatric ICU? It is the most miraculous, and the worst, place on earth.)

Most families can find their way to twenty dollars. Many cannot find six hundred. They’ll go without, and set probability against their children’s lives. Rich children will live; poor children will sometimes lose, and die.

I ask you to reconsider.

Sincerely,

Andromeda Yelton

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3 thoughts on “An open letter to Heather Bresch

  1. Relevant to that $600 number, the Federal Reserve Board routinely surveys American consumers, and one of the questions it asks is how the respondent would raise $400 in an emergency. This year, the Fed reports:
    “Forty-six percent of adults say they either could not cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money.”

    That’s in an emergency, when it’s immediately obvious that the money will be spent, or bad things will happen. It’s not, say, when a parent is looking at a two-months-past-expiration medication and wondering if it REALLY needs to be replaced, or if it could maybe be stretched to three or six months past.

    http://www.federalreserve.gov/2015-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201605.pdf

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    1. Thanks for bringing that up – that was exactly the stat that was somewhere in the back of my head writing the sentence, but I didn’t have the citation handy.

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  2. In response to this letter; Heather Manchin Bresch was not raised like most people in West Virginia. She was very privileged. Extremely. I went to school with her in Fairmont at West Fairmont High School.
    I can only guess… but With certainty… that She has never been put in a situation where she needed medication. Needed anything for that matter. She has no concept of this matter. She probably never will with a pay increase like she received.
    I on the other hand have to pick which child gets an epi pen this year at school. That is a horrible thing to go through as a mother. Even with my insurance, it still will cost me 200.00, each!!!! I cannot afford 3 of them like we currently need. So we will suffer. She won’t… BUT we will. My childhood classmate has done this to everyone. It makes me feel so proud to say this because I thought we had all been raised differently in our sanctuary of West Virginia, where our blood runs as deep as the coal veins. It’s just sad to me that someone can be so greedy. Especially someone like her. I am severely disappointed in this woman who is a mother. I hope that someday with her huge raise she can afford to finally obtain her MBA from a college or university that her parents cannot pay off. To set the record straight… she should do that…Because the scandal that SHE created was awful in so many people’s lives. Karma will serve her and serve her well I am sure. It always gets ya!!!

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