VOTE! Healthcare On The Ballot

On November 6th, we will go to the ballot box to vote and healthcare has emerged as one of the top issues for voters.

Healthcare is playing a prominent role in many House, Senate, and gubernatorial races. Candidates in both parties have made healthcare part of their campaigns and the focus of their political ads. These midterm elections are a referendum on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), especially the protections it contains for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

ISSUES

Medicaid Expansion – Medicaid is not typically an issue for the ballot box, but Medicaid expansion under the ACA has become an issue.  To date, 34 states have expanded Medicaid coverage. Medicaid expansion is a prominent issue in races in the key states of Florida and Texas. Candidates in Georgia and Kansas have tied Medicaid expansion to the survival of rural hospitals and access to healthcare for rural populations. Medicaid expansion is a key issue in gubernatorial elections in Michigan and Ohio. It is on the ballot in four states – Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, and Utah.

Protections For People With Preexisting Conditions – This very popular provision of the ACA has become a rallying point for many voters. The ACA prohibits insurers, a focal point of voter anger, from denying or limiting coverage for people with health conditions. Nearly all candidates from both parties are saying these protections need to remain in place.  But those incumbent candidates that voted to repeal the ACA are on the defensive, regardless of their vocalized position in this election cycle.

Medicare-for-All – The idea of a single payer healthcare system became prominent during the last presidential campaign. Remember Bernie Sanders? This idea represents the gulf between progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans. One side sees this as the path to access and affordability for all and the other side sees this as step to big government socialism.

Women’s Health – Abortion is again in the spotlight. Three states – Alabama, Oregon, and West Virginia – have abortion measures on the ballot designed to limit access to abortion. Sixteen states have laws in place to prohibit abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade. Nine states have laws protecting access to abortion services.

OUTCOMES

The outcomes of this election cycle might be a good indicator of the future of the ACA, Medicaid, and our approach to healthcare as a nation. Voter turnout and voter response will determine the outcome of elections for governors and Congress that will ultimately shape the next round of health care policy. Places to watch are Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah, where voters will determine directly whether their states will expand Medicaid under the ACA.

Healthcare policy affects us all, especially you! Express your view. Get out and VOTE!