The Answer to Health Care Lies on Maine’s Streets

The GOP’s decision to back down on Graham-Cassidy is a victory for the tens of millions of Americans who spoke out, called, wrote, texted and emailed their opposition to a reckless plan to undermined our health care and our economy. Their effort to repeal was purely political. It highlights what’s wrong with our system. Congressional leaders were ready to force Americans to choose between healing themselves and feeding themselves just to keep an ill-conceived and increasingly unpopular campaign promise.

They’re sure to be back at it again. The last few months have certainly provided evidence of their obstinance, but their blind enthusiasm for repeal was well proven in the over 54 times they tried to gut the ACA when Obama was still President and would have vetoed any repeal.

In dropping “Grassidy” yesterday, Mitch McConnell made clear, “We haven’t given up on changing the American health care system.”

But what he means by changing the health care system is gutting coverage for tens of millions of people who rely on Medicaid, Planned Parenthood, or have pre-existing conditions.

To date our work to protect health care in America has been playing defense: resisting Trump, Ryan, and McConnell and fighting for the third Senator to come through and hold strong. While this strategy has now brought us back from the brink three times this year, it means we are always preparing for the next assault rather than finding a more permanent solution. And there is one: improve the plan that has already expanded health care for more than twenty million people by expanding access to Medicaid, providing full subsidies, and stabilizing the markets. That work has already begun. In Maine, where voters are certainly grateful for the health care champion they have in Senator Collins, they are also working hard to proactively make things better.

After watching their governor veto legislation to expand Medicaid in their state five times, Mainers will vote this November on a ballot initiative to expand it anyway. If passed, 70,000 people will gain access to Medicaid coverage. That’s what changing our health care system should look like, not the revolving door of bad bills in Congress that would have stripped care from tens of millions of people.

Grassroots organizations in other states are taking notice and considering similar initiatives. They are looking to secure Medicaid expansion as well as insurance reforms that remain among the most popular provisions of the ACA and that are making Americans healthier and more economically secure.

Today there have already been more Tweets and commentary from Washington, DC that puts us all on our heels, again. Take note and take action, but keep an eye on Mainers for Health Care. After what citizens around the country have accomplished over the past few months in blocking the repeal effort, imagine what they can do when they go on offense.