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Elections Have Consequences: State and Local Leaders are Protecting and Expanding Health Care Even as President Trump and Republicans Continue Their Repeal and Sabotage Agenda Nationally

By January 9, 2019No Comments

Last year, health care was the number one issue that drove people to the polls and fueled the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.  And, even as President Trump and Republicans continue to pursue their repeal and sabotage agenda, elected leaders at the local and state level are fighting back and responding to voters by taking action to protect and expand coverage, and lower costs for their constituents. Elections do indeed have consequences.

(CA) Gov. Gavin Newsom Moves To Expand Access To Health Care In California. “Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a broad overhaul of health care on his first day in office Monday, promising to throw the state’s financial power into an effort to lower prescription drug costs, expand Obamacare so middle-class families can receive subsidies to buy insurance, and offer Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented immigrants up to age 26. Newsom aides said the expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies would be funded by a California version of the individual mandate, the former federal requirement that people either carry health insurance or pay a penalty on their taxes. Congressional Republicans and President Trump repealed the mandate in 2017, although the penalty does not disappear until the 2019 tax year. Newsom would reinstate it on the state level.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 1/7/19]

(CO) Colorado Democrats Introduce Public Option Health Care. “Creation of a public option health care plan is one of the most ambitious changes Colorado Democrats proposed Friday as they kicked off a new session of the General Assembly in control of both chambers for the first time in four years. The first five bills introduced in each chamber — indicators of lawmakers’ top priorities for the year — largely relate to health care and education costs. A Senate bill would create a public option health insurance plan that Coloradans who live in the highest-cost areas — mainly the Western Slope — could buy instead of their current insurance starting in the fall of 2019. A House bill would expand that program to the entire state by the fall of 2020.” [The Denver Post, 1/4/19]

(ME) On First Day In Office, Gov. Janet Mills Signs Executive Order Directing State To Implement Medicaid Expansion. “Medicaid expansion is finally advancing in Maine, more than a year after voters approved it at the ballot box. Newly sworn in Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat who campaigned on broadening access to health insurance, used her first executive order to direct the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to begin implementation of Medicaid expansion.” [CNN, 1/3/19]

(NM) In New Mexico, Democrats Plan To Introduce A Bill To Create A Medicaid Buy-in Program. “New Mexico Democrats eye creating the nation’s first Medicaid buy-in program, one of many blue-state efforts expected this year to expand health insurance coverage.” [Politico, 1/9/19]

(WA) Gov. Jay Inslee Proposes Public Option For Washington. “Gov. Jay Inslee and Democratic lawmakers Tuesday announced proposed legislation for a new “public option” health-care plan under Washington’s health-insurance exchange. The proposal, which Inslee said is the first step toward universal health care, is geared in part to help stabilize the exchange, which has wrestled with double-digit premium increases and attempts by Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. ‘We are proposing to the state Legislature that we have a public option that is available throughout the state of Washington so that we can increase the ability to move forward on the road to universal health care in the state of Washington,’ said the governor, who is considering a run for president in 2020.” [The Seattle Times, 1/8/19]

(WI) Gov. Tony Evers Signs Executive Orders To Direct State To Develop Plan For Expanding Medicaid, Find Ways To Protect ACA’s Consumer Protections. “In his second day on the job, Gov. Tony Evers signed executive orders Tuesday to study expanding health coverage and providing insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions…One order directs the state Department of Health Services to develop a plan to expand the state’s BadgerCare Plus health care program for low-income people under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Republican lawmakers have fiercely opposed the idea. The issue is expected to come to a head this year as Evers and lawmakers work on a state budget that will determine whether the state taps into additional federal aid through Obamacare. The second order tells state agencies to prepare plans to find ways to protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, bolster consumer protections, improve the public’s understanding of insurance, and require insurers to make their costs and terms easily understandable. Evers has said the best way to protect coverage for those with pre-existing conditions is to keep the Affordable Care Act in place. He campaigned on getting Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit challenging the law.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 1/8/19]

(NY) Governor Cuomo and the legislature to pursue reproductive rights protections. “Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Monday for including abortion rights in the New York Constitution, calling it an unprecedented opportunity to protect a woman’s right to choose… Cuomo took his call a step further, vowing to push an amendment that would enshrine a woman’s right to choose in the state Constitution. Such a move would make it more difficult for future governors and lawmakers to reverse: A constitutional amendment has to be approved by successively elected Legislatures and approved by a vote of the public. [Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 1/7/19]

(NYC) New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio To Fund Health Care For All, Including Undocumented. “New York Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a $100 million plan that he said would provide affordable ‘healthcare for all,’ reaching about 600,000 people, including undocumented immigrants, low-income residents not enrolled in Medicaid and young workers whose current plans are too expensive. The plan, which de Blasio dubbed ‘NYC Care,’ will offer public health insurance on a sliding price scale based on income, the mayor said during an interview Tuesday morning on MSNBC. It will begin later this year in the Bronx and will be available to all New Yorkers in 2021, and would cost at least $100 million once it reaches full enrollment, according to the mayor’s office.” [Bloomberg, 1/8/19]