Jennifer Jaff: Longtime Advocate for Chronically Ill Passes Away

Sep 19, 2012

Advocates for those with serious health issues are mourning the loss of an attorney who worked for years on their behalf. As WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, Jennifer Jaff died unexpectedly late last week. 

Jennifer Jaff was the Executive Director and founder of Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, a non-profit representing residents who not only battled medical conditions but their health insurance companies as well.  She had lived with her own chronic illness, Crohn's disease, for more than 30 years. One of her close friends was Vicky Veltri, Connecticut's healthcare advocate.  Veltri says the rights insurance consumers have today can be credited to Jaff's behind the scenes work. "Every time a person is denied a certain kind of treatment or coverage and they have a right to appeal, they have to a certain degree Jennifer to thank for the very consumer friendly regulations." Jaff's work for fair access to insurance coverage had an impact both locally and nationally. Veltri says the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act meant so much to her friend.   "I think that was the great cause of her life. The fact that people were finally, finally not going to be discriminated against because they had a pre-existing health condition." Jaff's circle of friends included Gloria Steinem. Steinem met Jaff many years ago and saw her friends' passion become her life's work.  "She was a true activist organizer in the sense whenever she saw a problem she went off into entreprenuerial ideas of how to solve that problem and help that person, she was completely invested in it." In a statement, Carol Fain Walters, the President of the Board of Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, says the organization is committed to promoting Jaff's legacy.  And state Health Care Advocate, Vicki Veltri, says her office is also offering to help the group with client cases. Jaff's family will have private funeral arrangements but a public memorial is also being planned in the next couple of months. Jaff was 55 years old.  for WNPR I'm Lucy Nalpathanchil