On November 6th, we saw a “Health Care Wave” sweep across the country altering the balance of power in Washington and across state capitols across the country. Exit polls revealed what we long suspected: health care was one of the most important issues on the minds of voters, and in particular people who voted for Democrats. Democrats, who needed 23 additional seats to retake the House of Representatives, have gained are on track to gain at least 35 seats.
Families USA has identified some of the biggest legislative victories for health care in the 2018 state legislative sessions.
In the 2017 elections, Maine voters took control at the ballot box to expand health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion. The decisive win--with nearly 60 percent of the vote-- shows the popular support for Medicaid expansion in Maine, where the governor has vetoed the state legislature's repeated efforts to expand coverage.
The lesson of the campaign will be shared in the coming year with other states like Utah and Idaho, where ballot initiatives give voters a chance to move Medicaid expansion efforts ahead after years of stalling by conservative policymakers.
Despite a divided Congress in Washington, many state policymakers around the country, supported by advocates, reached across the aisle to make needed improvements to the health care system.
Governors, lawmakers, and regulators made strides to expand health coverage, protect consumers in the insurance market, and address rising prescription drug prices. Here are some of the highlights of the 2016 sessions through June 1 and the Families USA allies whose advocacy was critical to making them happen.
In horse racing, it is not a good idea to change jockeys when you have a winner. That is why Governor–elect Matt Bevin should not rush into a decision on Kentucky’s winning approach to health coverage. It is not just the economic case that the new governor should consider. Bevin must grapple with the impact an upheaval in the health care system would have on the state’s low-income workers and their families.
From February 4-6, 2016, the Health Action Conference—one of the nation’s largest gatherings of consumer health care advocates—will bring people together from across the country to prepare for the crucial work of improving access to affordable, high-quality health care. Registration begins November 1.
State lawmakers kept returning to the topic of 1332 waivers during the annual Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Seattle last week. No fewer than four of the NCSL Health and Human Services sessions touched on the state innovation waiver options that will become available in 2017. But while the 1332 waivers were a hot topic, it does not appear legislators are looking to embrace big changes anytime soon.