On Tuesday, America voted to reelect Barack Obama for another four years in office. It was a momentous victory, not only for progressives, but for the health care justice movement.
With the reelection of President Obama, the direction of our nation’s health care system has become clear: Obamacare will be implemented, the Medicaid safety net will be strengthened, and Medicare’s guaranteed benefits will not be undermined. But the path ahead will not be free from challenges, and as we turn our attention toward achieving our goal of affordable, high-quality health coverage for all Americans, we must prepare for the challenges ahead.
We have been given an unprecedented opportunity to enroll tens of millions of uninsured Americans in new health coverage, but many people are unaware of these new opportunities. We must work together to ensure that people know not only what new coverage opportunities will be available to them come January 2014, but that there is an enrollment infrastructure in place to make signing up as easy as possible.
In the next few months, your governors, if they have not done so already, will decide whether to expand their Medicaid programs to cover more low-income adults. Expanding Medicaid will not only benefit state residents, who will have better access to health care, but with the federal government providing the bulk of the funding for the expansion, it will also be good for state economies. But the guaranteed availability of this funding is crucial to governors who are deciding whether to expand their programs, so it is important to protect it during the upcoming federal budget debate.
Finally, now that we have laid the groundwork for affordable health coverage, we must start thinking about how to improve the quality of the health care system for consumers. We need a health care system that delivers the right care at the right time for patients. If we can improve the quality of care that consumers receive, then the overall health care system will be stronger and more effective.
On Tuesday night, in front of a packed crowd in Chicago, President Obama spoke to his supporters about the path ahead:
As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path.
We must remember this as we move forward with our work—it’s not always going to be smooth, it’s not always going to be easy, but we will succeed.