King v. Burwell

A nurse’s fight to keep the Affordable Care Act

By: MICHELLE BOYLE, RN

By: MICHELLE BOYLE, RN

Hannah Jewel Brown, my mother-in-law, worked hard so her son could do better than she did. It's every parent's wish. She raised her son with the values of giving to your family, your community and your country. I was lucky enough to marry him. Sixteen years ago, pre-Affordable Care Act (ACA), Hannah lost her job and her healthcare.

In 1999, a year and a half after her son and I married, we attended Hannah's funeral. She died of treatable chronic conditions at 58. She did not live long enough to play with her grandchildren. My daughters, 8 and 11 years old, hold a picture of their grandmother instead of being able to hold her hand.

Sadly, I knew my family was not alone in their heartbreak. There were families like mine all across the country who suffered the loss of a loved one who had died from an illness that could have been treated if they caught it early. Before the ACA passed, as a nurse I saw patients and families who had finally come in to receive care. As they dealt with their illness, they were praying at the bedside wondering if this was the time they may lose their house to medical bills. Equally heartbreaking were the couples. I saw one couple advocating for the other: either she continued to receive the necessary medications to keep the transplanted kidney she was gifted or he would receive chemotherapy for his newly diagnosed cancer. Ultimately, she gave up her kidney transplant so her husband could receive treatment. She is now on dialysis three times a week.

My mother-in-law didn't receive treatment because there were no affordable options for her. That’s why I included my name on the King v. Burwell amicus brief back in January, 2015. Registered nurses, doctors, healthcare workers, and ordinary working folks also joined SEIU in filing an amicus brief that revealed how the tax credits have helped them, their patients, or their loved ones afford healthcare coverage, and, subsequently, afford long overdue preventive care and treatment of chronic conditions.

It's called the “Affordable Care Act” for a reason. Affordability is the point. It doesn't get much clearer than that. It's affordable so people do not have to choose between good healthcare and going bankrupt. It's affordable so he can receive his chemotherapy and she can continue to have her gifted kidney working. It's affordable so people who work hard all their lives can live long enough to enjoy their grandchildren.

Passing the ACA was just a start. The 6-3 Supreme Court ruling that came down on June 25 allowed for the federal government to continue providing tax credits to help working families in need cover the cost of their insurance premiums in the 34 states with marketplaces. Upholding the decision solidified the historic law’s place in healthcare reform. The ACA is here to stay.

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