Democrats Are Fighting Back Against The AHCA One State At A Time
With the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) polling as the most unpopular piece of legislation in decades and Senate Republicans releasing an equally “mean” bill, state Democrats across the country are leading the charge to ensure all Americans — regardless of income, gender, or pre-existing conditions — maintain access to crucial health care. While the debate in Washington, D.C. rages on, you can be sure state Democrats are fighting for you at home.
In California, Senate Democrats recently passed landmark legislation known as The Healthy California Act. The Act would establish a groundbreaking single-payer health care system that would cover all Californians — including those without legal immigration status.
New York is working on a similar bill that has already passed the Democratic-led state Assembly. The bill, known as the New York Health Act, would provide universal coverage statewide. The majority of Assembly Democrats have signed on as cosponsors of the landmark legislation, and are fighting to keep it moving in the GOP-controlled state Senate. DLCC Board member and Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has been a driving force in the Senate, encouraging her colleagues to act and protect New Yorker’s health care access.
Democrats in Nevada succeeded in passing “Medicaid-for-all” legislation, but it was ultimately vetoed by GOP Governor Brian Sandoval. The historic legislation was a potential model for other states to follow. Democratic sponsor Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle saw his bill as an opportunity for Nevada to step in and cover any gaps that arise if congressional Republicans succeed in rolling back the Affordable Care Act. After Gov. Sandoval vetoed the legislation, Assemblyman Sprinkle stated, “Healthcare is a right, not a privilege or a product…With this veto, Governor Sandoval has actively decided to veto a right that all Nevadans should have.”
Meanwhile, despite working under a Republican-controlled legislature, Michigan Democrats are fighting back against the AHCA with a Michigan Health Care Bill of Rights. The legislation package will include stipulations to the AHCA that would preserve essential health benefits and protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. Up to one million Michigan residents could to lose coverage if the AHCA becomes law. Michigan House Democratic Leader Sam Singh stood resolute, saying, “I want to make sure that [my colleagues] stand up and say that pre-existing conditions are something that have to be…covered by insurance.”
Earlier this year, Oregon Democrats introduced a measure to preserve and broaden many of the essential provisions of the Affordable Care Act, protect the right to choose, and provide care for new mothers. The Reproductive Health Equity Act protects access to reproductive health care, including no-cost birth control, prenatal care, abortion, and other health services, while also expanding healthcare access to cover immigrants, transgender and gender non-conforming people, and the uninsured. Illinois and Alaska are also on the front lines to protect reproductive health care. Illinois Democrats’ HB 40 would scrap a “trigger law” that could make abortion illegal in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned. Alaska Democrats are working to pass legislation to expand insurance coverage for contraceptives and reproductive health services.
Democratic legislators in these states and others across the country are making significant progress — despite Donald Trump and congressional Republicans’ destructive directives — by taking important policy decisions into their own hands. While Democrats in all branches of government are fighting to protect Americans in the Trump era, state legislators are leading the charge and having an impact. We have seen the difference Democrats have made in broadening health care access through Medicaid expansion in their states and their efforts are needed even more now. We will continue to stand with our lawmakers, work to expand Democratic influence in statehouses nationwide, and fight for key priorities.