November 08, 2018

Safe at last?

The recent election has been dissected many times, but I’d like to share a different take on it.

For literally decades of my career with the American Friends Service Committee, health care has been a—maybe the—main focus, all the way back to the 1989-90 Pittston coal strike.

Before the Affordable Care Act was a dream I worked with friends in WV on enacting and expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program and fighting over the traditional Medicaid program.

When the ACA was in play, I was all over it with many of the same friends.

The biggest social justice victory of my life was working with friends to persuade then Governor Tomblin to expand Medicaid under the ACA, which opened up the road to health care and recovery to over 200,000 low income working West Virginians in any given year.

After the 2016 election, it was all hands on deck to preserve it from repeal, which looked inevitable at the time but miraculously didn’t happen.

With the recent election, three more states (Utah, Nebraska and Idaho) voted to expand Medicaid, joining the 33 states and District of Columbia and opening coverage to hundreds of thousands.

The more states that do it, the safer it is and the greater is the pressure on the holdout states to do the same. And, with the change in the composition of the US House, it looks like the program is safe for the foreseeable future.

I can’t express how much of a relief that is

Obviously our health care system is still a hot mess and not what it should be, but now it covers millions more Americans. I’m a firm believer in taking the ground you can and then fighting for more.

One other game changer this time around was Florida’s decision to restore voting rights to former prisoners, which could enfranchise 1.4 million people. That should put some swing into a swing state.
Without even considering other changes, those are pretty positive outcomes.

(Note: blogging on my phone with thumbs so please excuse the typos.)

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