Once more unto the breach: The next fight is for Medicaid expansion

Once more unto the breach: The next fight is for Medicaid expansion

Mainers—myself included— who spent the last six months lobbying our congressional delegation to stand firm against Republican-led efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have been buoyant in their celebrations since July 28, when the latest repeal effort in the US Senate fell short by a single vote, with Republican Sen. Susan Collins casting an essential ‘No’ vote to sink the effort (which even by my non-bell curve grading standards for Sen. Collins counts as a vote worthy of praise and appreciation).

With that defeat, it is seeming less and less likely that the devastatingly sweeping cuts to Medicaid and to the core pillars of the ACA that Congressional Republicans and President Trump have sought will come to pass before the 2018 midterm elections. But in the handful of days since that dramatic vote, it is becoming crystal clear that less dramatic—but equally sinister— threats to health care remain.

In just the last week at the federal and state levels, we have seen President Trump threaten to use his executive powers to destabilize and collapse the ACA insurance marketplaces, while Governor LePage’s Department of Health and Human Services has requested a waiver from the federal government that would allow Maine to tighten eligibility to Medicaid and impose premiums for care for the program, which serves people who live in poverty and those with disabilities. Either action would prove devastating for Mainers and ultimately make healthcare more costly for everyone.

LePage continues to berate Senators King and Collins in national media for their votes in an attempt to intimidate them into folding the next time they hold a vote on healthcare. And while referring to Medicaid as a “welfare entitlement,” LePage continues to stand in the way of a statewide Medicaid expansion that would provide healthcare access to over 80,000 Mainers and ultimately make care more affordable for all Mainers.

The ardent activists in Maine may have saved Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act from the headsman’s axe, but determined conservatives in Maine and DC would see these programs die a quieter death by a thousand cuts instead. We need to be organized and committed enough to stand in their way and to avoid the complacency that exciting victories often engender: we have won a decisive battle, but progressive activists in Maine and around the nation remain the underdogs in a larger war for the future of American healthcare.

And to win, we need to go on the offensive. Now is not time to rest on our laurels while the fights continue: it’s time to demand from our congressional delegation that they commit to a policy regime that treats health care as a human right, and it’s time to stand up to Governor LePage and vote to expand Medicaid at the ballot this fall.

So once more unto the breach, dear friends. There’s still a lot of work to do.

Jin the campaign!

About author

Grady Burns
Grady Burns 44 posts

Grady Burns is an activist on issues involving young Mainers. He serves on the Auburn City Council and is president of the Maine Young Democrats.

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