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Page last updated at 20:51 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009
What next for Debbie and Jessica?

By Hilary Andersson
Reporter, Panorama

Debbie Boughan
Debbie Boughan and her husband lived in a tent to afford medical bills

One of the most depressing moments of filming What Now, Mr President? for Panorama, was when we stood in the freezing cold, pouring rain at a campsite on the outskirts of Detroit with Debbie and Steve Boughan.

Debbie, a former cancer patient, had taken us to the place where she lived in a tent for several months last year whilst undergoing chemotherapy.

When her husband Steve lost his job, they simply could not afford to pay rent on their house and pay their medical bills as well, so they had to move into a tent.

The Boughans were not rich enough to afford health insurance, but they were not considered poor enough to qualify for state assistance.

Debbie has had some great news since we met her. She has finally qualified for Medicaid, the state assistance programme.

"I'm happy I'm finally going to be able to get my prescriptions," she said.

But she is not hopeful of such change for the health system as a whole: "The insurance companies are too big, nothing's going to change," noted Debbie.

The bad news for the Boughans is that Steve's fundraising job finished and he is looking for more work. Finding work in Michigan right now is going to be very difficult as unemployment is soaring.

Steve is as stoic as his wife about their troubles, but he is devastated that he cannot support his family properly. At least they have their trailer now.

Jessica Moberly
Jessica got herself on the list for a liver thanks to Foster Friess's financial help

There is also an update on Jessica Moberly, the mother of five we met in Kentucky, who urgently needed a liver transplant.

She had been given weeks to live by her doctors unless she had the transplant.

But she could not afford to fix her car so that she could get to the hospital to put herself on the list for the liver.

When we told her story to Foster Friess, the multi-millionaire out in Wyoming, he asked if he could help her.

We gave him Jessica's number and now, thanks to his financial assistance, Jessica has managed to get her car fixed and is on the list for a liver and may get one.

Foster is a strong Christian who believes the private healthcare system is best for America, and that it is individuals who should take responsibility for helping out the poor.

Obama hopes he can reform America's health system, but it will be a huge task and he will have to take on vested interests in the health industry.

His main challenge is to fulfil his pledge to lower the cost of health insurance and drugs before his first Presidential term is up. Quite a promise.

Last week the House of Representatives voted to extend government insurance programmes to include another four million children.

President Obama is expected to sign this bill into law during his first week in office. That will be a signal that he means business.

What Now, Mr President?
Friday, 16 January 2009, 17:50 GMT |  Panorama
Hilary Andersson on What Next Mr President?
Friday, 16 January 2009, 13:42 GMT |  Panorama


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