Why I’m A Health Care Voter: Burke’s Brain Tumor

When my brother Burke was fourteen, he was on the debate team, ran cross-country, and seemed perfectly healthy — and then he was suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Burke had two risky surgeries to remove the tumor and ended up in the hospital for nine months. Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), our insurance had a $1 million lifetime limit, and after that he would have lost coverage. But now, because of the ACA, insurers can’t set limits on coverage. Burke is insured through our mother’s employer, and that costs $38,000 each year, but it’s a lifesaver since Burke’s treatment has cost at least $2 million.

Without the ACA, my parents would have had to declare bankruptcy, and we would have lost everything. But more heartbreaking, when a doctor told my parents that it was time to give up, that my brother would be unresponsive forever, they would have had to agree. Because of the coverage and security provided by the ACA, my parents were able to keep fighting for Burke. I’m thrilled to report that with a lot of time and physical therapy, he’s made a miraculous recovery. Not only did Burke relearn how to walk and speak, but he’s now in college studying art and linguistics.

The ACA absolutely saved my brother’s life. It kept our family out of financial ruin. There’s just no other way to say it.

Congressional Republicans like Vern Buchanan have voted dozens of times to repeal the ACA, and support a replacement plan that offers no real coverage at all. Stories like Burke’s don’t seem to register with them, as if the pain and suffering of people like us doesn’t matter. We were devastated by Burke’s illness, but his amazing recovery is testament to the effectiveness of the ACA.

Burke is alive and healthy today because of the Affordable Care Act that Vern Buchanan wants to repeal. That’s why I’m a Health Care Voter.