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Clinic: Cancer Patient Who Wrote to Obama Will Not Lose Home, May Get Aid

Natoma Canfield and President Obama

Natoma Canfield's battles with cancer and with insurance companies have become a centerpiece of President Obama's campaign to pass a health care system overhaul.

Natoma Canfield, the cancer-stricken woman who has become a centerpiece of President Obama's push for health care reform, will not lose her home over her medical bills and will probably qualify for financial aid, a top official at the Cleveland medical center treating her told FoxNews.com. 

Though Canfield's sister Connie Anderson said her sibling is afraid she'll lose her house and Obama warned at an Ohio rally Monday that the patient is "racked with worry" about the cost of tests and treatment, she is already being screened for financial help. 

Lyman Sornberger, executive director of patient financial services at the Cleveland Clinic, said "all indications" at the outset are that she will be considered for assistance. 

"She may be eligible for state Medicaid ... and/or she will be eligible for charity (care) of some form or type. ... In my personal opinion, she will be eligible for something," he said, adding that Canfield should not be worried about losing her home.

"Cleveland Clinic will not put a lien on her home," he said. 

Cleveland Clinic offers personal guides to patients like Canfield who are concerned about payment to try to match them up with programs that can provide full or partial assistance. One option is state Medicaid coverage, which Canfield did not have when she was admitted. Another is charity care that is routinely provided by the hospital, which is a nonprofit. Cleveland Clinic reported providing $99 million in charity care in 2008. 

For the time being, Canfield is probably the clinic's most famous patient. 

Canfield gained national attention after Obama publicized a letter she wrote to the White House in February. In the letter, she detailed how skyrocketing premiums had forced her off her insurance. 

Canfield said in her letter that while she was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer 16 years ago, she had been cancer-free for 11 years. But she said her premiums increased by over 25 percent last year, and that with a maximum deductible of $2,500 she had to pay about $10,000 for care in 2009 -- while her insurance company paid just over $900. 

After learning recently that her premiums were about to increase by over 40 percent in 2010, Canfield dropped her plan, she said in the letter.

Since writing the letter and dropping her coverage, Canfield was diagnosed with Leukemia. 

Obama said Monday during a stop in Strongsville, Ohio, that Canfield was rushed to the hospital last week after collapsing on a farm. She was then admitted to the Cleveland Clinic. 

"She was very sick," Obama said. "She expects to face more than a month of aggressive chemotherapy. She is racked with worry not only about her illness but about the costs of the tests and the treatment that she's surely going to need to beat it." 

Anderson said her sister expects to spend at least 28 days in the hospital. She said Canfield has her own cleaning business but does not have any kind of health coverage, adding that for now nobody is paying for her stay at the Cleveland Clinic. 

But Sornberger said that even if Canfield doesn't qualify for charity care or Medicaid, "there's probably eight to 10 options that a patient has" to find payment. 

"It doesn't stop there," he said. 

Asked for comment, a representative for Canfield's old insurance company said "the cost of new drugs and hospital stays," along with the trend of healthy individuals dropping coverage, are behind the latest rate increases. 

"Our associates ... work tirelessly every day to help ensure members have access to the best health care coverage at the best price," Kim Ashley, public relations director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio, said in a written statement. She said the company "strongly shares our members' concerns over the rising cost of health care services and the resulting impact on health insurance premiums."

The Obama administration has gone aggressively after Anthem, demanding explanations for similar double-digit rate hikes in California.

FoxNews.com's Judson Berger and Fox News' Marla Cichowski contributed to this report.