An open letter to Donald Trump

By Kendall Brown,
Kendall Brown
Kendall Brown

Dear Mr. Trump,

You don't know me. We've never met in person or talked to one another. But you have continuously threatened my life since you began your presidential campaign.

You see, I'm one of millions of Americans with a disability. I was born with severe Crohn's Disease. The disease is genetic and inherited, and it means I cannot absorb nutrients normally through my intestines and am often left in debilitating pain — unable to eat, or walk, or do most of the things people often take for granted in life. The disease has cost me thousands of dollars, entire semesters of my college career, and nearly two feet of my intestine that had to be removed in an emergency surgery.

And it has nearly killed me, twice. It would have killed me, if it weren't for one thing: Obamacare.

The first time Obamacare saved my life, I was 25.

Thanks to Crohn's Disease, I had to have two feet of my intestine removed in an emergency surgery. A few months earlier, I didn't have health insurance, and likely wouldn't have been able to get the life-saving surgery. But the first phase of Obamacare had just kicked in, allowing me to go back on my mom's insurance until I turned 26.

The second time Obamacare saved my life, I was 28.

After I aged off of my mom's insurance, insurance companies were able to legally deny me health coverage, because having been born with a disease meant I had a pre-existing condition. By that time, I was undergoing a form of chemo treatments, and on my 27th birthday, I was informed at the hospital that my insurance had declined my treatment. Unless I had the $15,000 the treatment would cost, I had to go home without it. I went home untreated that day. Until the second phase of Obamacare kicked in, preventing insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, they were able to deny me coverage, or just refuse to pay for anything related to my disease.

Obamacare changed all of that.

And that's where you come in, Mr. Trump. You've spent the last two years telling Americans that Obamacare is nothing but bad news, that you would "repeal it and replace it with something terrific." On what, exactly, your "something terrific" would look like, you've been uniquely and uncharacteristically silent.

Mr. Trump, access to quality and affordable health care coverage for millions of Americans is not something we can afford for 45th President of the United States to be vague on. Worse, the things you've told the American people about health care have been incorrect, outrageous, and at times, outright lies.

And you don't seem to care that you're wrong. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's that you and I are very different. Our lives have been very different.

Kendall Brown

When your father was giving you your first "small" million dollar loan, my mother was trying to figure out how to pay for my medicine and hide it from me when the stress made her cry, and I was working two full-time jobs while also attending college classes — just to afford my treatment.

And while I'm a 30-year-old facing the possibility of a medical bankruptcy due to insurmountable medical debt from before the ACA  — along what that will mean for my future, my ability to buy a house some day and afford to have children — you've managed to walk away from multiple business bankruptcies unscathed.

So I know our lives have turned us into very different people, Mr. Trump. That was never more apparent than when I watched you mock reporter Serge Kovaleski for the physical disability he was born with. On that day, you showed all of us in the disability community — along with the rest of the world — just how cruel and ugly you can be.

Mr. Trump, you've probably guessed by now that I'm a proud progressive. But much of my family are proud conservatives. And most of us did not vote for you on November 8. But now that you have been elected as our 45th president, your duty is to represent all of us — including Americans with disabilities, who need our government to do what's right and not leave us behind. Please remember, Mr. Trump, that the act of caring, of taking care of our fellow Americans, is a principle that transcends party lines .

Earlier today, you announced you have chosen Rep. Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, saying in a press release that the choice is to show further commitment to repealing and replacing Obamacare. Rep. Price's proposed Obamacare replacement would put me back in the same place I was four years ago,  unable to afford astronomically high premiums for the health insurance I needed to stay alive. And I'm not alone: if you do this, you are taking away the health coverage, and the peace of mind, of millions of Americans.

Our nation is now at a crossroads, Mr. Trump. You are at a crossroads. As you choose what path to take regarding my life and the lives of millions of Americans like me, I hope you'll keep in your mind and your heart the Methodist creed your opponent's mother taught her as a young child. These words have acted as her North Star for 69 years, and I hope they will do the same for you now:

"Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can."

We're counting on you, Mr. Trump. Please do not forget us.

Kendall Brown

This is an updated version of a post that was originally published on Medium. Read the original post here.

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