Faced with the story of an Oklahoman whose optometrist helped to diagnose her cancer and save her life, the Walmart-backed “Yes on 793” campaign is lashing out at a cancer survivor.
Shawn Miyahara was diagnosed with lymphoma, with the help of Tulsa’s Dr. Jason Ellen, whom she calls a “hero.” Today she is cancer free. Her story is running in a statewide television ad campaign, and she authored a blog post on the subject, available here.
The Walmart-funded “Yes on 793” campaign, however, says the story is “NOT TRUE,” “shameful” and should be retracted.
Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP) Executive Director Joel Robison said the attack on a patient’s credibility and sincerity is disturbing and adds to the concern that Walmart is unsuited to be a health care provider.
“Is this how Walmart intends to treat its patients?” asked Robison. “Walmart and its campaign owe this woman an apology. This is the behavior of a corporate-bully, not a company that can be trusted to perform medical procedures.”
Dr. Jason Ellen, whom Ms. Miyahara credits with helping to save her life, says that State Question 793 would provide the opportunity for a retail establishment to control and limit the exam components that allows for complete patient care and could make it harder for patients to get the kind of care that Ms. Miyahara received.
“A fast, 'glasses focused' eye exam would not have helped Ms. Miyahara,” said Dr. Ellen. Several other specialists had already missed her true diagnosis.
Dr. Chad Chamberlain is the ophthalmologist who performed the initial orbital surgery and biopsy which confirmed a diagnosis of lymphoma, prior to Ms. Miyahara’s cancer treatment at MD Anderson. He said that SQ 793 discourages the type of screenings and treatment that helped detect her cancer.
“SQ 793 clearly gives corporations the power to deemphasize and even discourage the level of care that Dr. Ellen provided to Ms. Miyahara,” said Chamberlain. “Without that care, she may never have been referred to me and her cancer may have gone undetected. Without the extended level of care that she received, which does not coincide with the revenue and volume focus of most corporate driven initiatives, there is a strong likelihood that she would not have obtained the treatment that ultimately saved her life.”
Ellen says Walmart has proposed an overreaching Constitutional amendment that fundamentally compromises patient safety, and has only itself to blame for the backlash among voters.
“If Walmart had wanted to work with lawmakers to make it easier for them to sell glasses and contacts, we wouldn’t be seeing this level of controversy,” said Ellen. “Instead, they want to make Oklahoma the only state in the country where corporations are constitutionally empowered to control their doctors and limit how they practice. I don’t think Oklahomans want to be pioneers in bad health care or unethical corporate control.”
Watch Shawn's inspiring story below: