Melissa "Nikki" Mackey may look like a strong gust of wind could topple her, but she won't be bending to the will of Washington State attorney general Rob McKenna.
The 38-year-old cancer survivor is one of 90 women suing McKenna for breach of ethics and lying about the ramifications of his lawsuit against President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA).
On September 16, 2010—just six months after the ACA repealed lifetime caps on insurance coverage—Mackey was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. As she battled for her life, Mackey didn't have to worry that the mounting costs of bone scans, MRIs, four surgeries (including two mastectomies), 16 rounds of chemotherapy, and continued follow-up treatments would mean that she one day wouldn't qualify for insurance coverage.
But her insurance policy's $2 million cap could return if McKenna gets his way.
"I have no doubt that I would meet the cap," Mackey says. "My first four rounds of chemo alone cost $126,000." Mackey expects to continue chemo until early 2013. She says losing both breasts was devastating, but it doesn't compare to the thought of being without health insurance for the rest of her life.
"I honestly don't know what will happen to me," she says. "What will I do if I have a recurrence? Rob McKenna is playing politics with my life."
Randy Pepple, manager for McKenna's gubernatorial campaign, dismisses Mackey's fears as nothing more than a small-time political stunt intended to "score political points." Mackey responds: "That's beyond insulting. Not only is it misogynistic to assume that the ninety women involved in this suit don't know our own minds when it comes to protecting our health, it's stupid to underestimate us. I'm a fighter. I fought this disease and I will fight Rob McKenna."