Obama helps fainting woman: Why was she lightheaded?

Obama steadied fainting woman who was standing behind him during his Rose Garden speech Monday on the Affordable Care Act. 'This happens when I talk too long,' he quipped.

Jason Reed/Reuters
President Obama reaches out to help Affordable Care Act beneficiary Karmel Allison (c.), who began to faint during the president's speech about healthcare from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington Monday, October 21, 2013.

President Obama caught a fainting woman who was standing behind him during his Monday speech on the Affordable Care Act, in case you haven’t heard.

The incident happened near the end of his address. Mr. Obama was wrapping up his defense of his signature health-care law, saying that it was intended to free families from the fear of illness and so forth, when a dark-haired woman in a red dress began to crumple in the Rose Garden sunshine.

The president and several other people reached out to steady her. “You’re OK. I’m right here. I got you,” Obama said.

“This happens when I talk too long,” he added.

The woman’s name is Karmel Allison. She is pregnant and has been diagnosed with diabetes. She had not drunk enough water before the outdoor event, she told Business Insider, and eventually began to feel faint.

Next thing she knew, the nation’s chief executive was breaking her fall.

Ms. Allison has not actually signed up for Obamacare yet, or attempted to. But she’s looked at whether she’d be able to make use of the law, given that she has a preexisting condition, and was happy to learn that diabetes would not preclude her from getting what she felt was affordable coverage.

“My husband and I are reviewing our options, now that we have other options,” she told Business Insider.

In fact, this is the second time a young woman has fainted in conjunction with Obamacare addresses. It’s a bookend of sorts, as the first fainting occurred back in 2009 during a congressional hearing on the legislation that would become the Affordable Care Act.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was speaking before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the bill’s features when a female intern fainted and hit her head. Secretary Sebelius immediately stopped speaking, and several lawmakers who are trained physicians rushed to her aide.

She eventually revived and walked from the room under her own power. Then-chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D) of California said that everyone was “distressed” about the incident and added that he hoped the prospect of congressional passage of health-care reform legislation would not slow her recovery.

“Maybe the hope of it will spur her on,” he said, jokingly.

Opponents of the law would say that such hope has been proved wrong, at least so far, given the many teething problems that have appeared in the Obamacare website.

Pressure on the administration to provide more details about the problems of HealthCare.gov is increasing, Politico notes Tuesday morning. That’s one reason that Obama spoke in the Rose Garden in the first place.

“Transparency isn’t the only issue that’s dismaying the law’s supporters,” writes Politico’s David Nather. “Some Democrats are privately irked that Obama, in their eyes, had to bail out HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who’s likely to be grilled mercilessly about the website breakdowns – and the lack of pre-launch testing – the moment House Republicans get her into a hearing room, which is expected next week.”

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