Support For Health Care Dominates 2017 Elections

Protect Our Care
5 min readNov 8, 2017

From the night’s most important race — Virginia voters overwhelmingly cited health care as the most important issue and picked Ralph Northam by 54 points — to the Affordable Care’s first time on a state ballot — Maine voters “easily approved” a referendum expanding Medicaid — health care was the dominant issue across the country in the 2017 elections.

In New Hampshire, Mayor-Elect Joyce Craig broke with the incumbent mayor to endorse Medicaid expansion and won a decisive victory; in Virginia delegate races, candidate after candidate backed Medicaid expansion and came away with upset wins; and in Florida, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, an outspoken supporter of the Affordable Care Act, was re-elected in a hotly-contested race. And as the AP reports, with Utah and Idaho looking to expand Medicaid too, last night could be just the start…

Washington Post: In Virginia, the network exit poll asked respondents which one of five issues mattered most in deciding their vote for governor: 39 percent said health care, far more than any other issue. And health-care focused voters favored Northam by a giant 77 percent to 23 percent margin in preliminary exit polls.

Axios: Exit polls in Virginia showed that health care was the №1 issue for a plurality of voters — and 78% of those voters broke for Democrat Ralph Northam. Virginia already had a Democratic governor. The party’s immense gains in the state legislature, where past efforts to expand Medicaid failed, are what move it closer to reality.

CNBC: The Virginia results increased the likelihood that the state will vote to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. Republicans had blocked outgoing Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe from achieving that goal. At the same time, voters in Maine took Medicaid expansion into their own hands by approving it in a referendum that overpowered opposition from Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Entrenching the expansion in a 32nd state — where Sen. Susan Collins has already cast a key vote against Obamacare repeal — makes Trump’s hope for reviving that effort even more remote.

Washington Post: Less than two months after Republicans’ latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act imploded, a purple state just made a decidedly blue-state move to essentially expand Obamacare. On Tuesday, Maine became the first state to expand Medicaid with a ballot initiative. And it passed overwhelmingly: Maine voters agreed to grant health care to an estimated 70,000 low-income residents by a nearly 20-percentage point margin by the time the measure was called by election watchers. In other words, a sizable number of voters in Maine just voted to do the exact opposite of what the state’s Republican governor and Republicans in Washington have been trying to do.

Richmond Times-Dispatch: The potentially stunning reversal of power in the House could break a political logjam over expansion of Medicaid in Virginia under the Affordable Care Act, if the federal law survives further attacks by Trump and Republicans in Congress. “It means that we will move forward with Medicaid expansion and have health care for everyone who needs it,” declared [Delegate-elect Debra Rodman], who made the issue a centerpiece of her campaign… “I will fight every day to protect our public schools, expand access to affordable health care, and create an economy that works for everybody,” [Delegate-elect Schuler VanValkenburg] said in his victory statement.

USA Today: Chris Hurst, 30, supported stricter gun safety measures, but centered his campaign around other issues including an expansion of Medicaid and increased funding for schools. Hurst was one of several upset winners in state House elections Tuesday that could tip the majority to Democrats when the final recounts are completed. “We can seize on this opportunity to expand Medicaid in the Commonwealth so that everybody who is working but living in poverty can have access to health insurance,” Hurst told a crowd of ecstatic supporters in Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech.

The Intercept: In a wide-ranging interview, [Delegate Bob Marshall] doubled down on hardline right-wing positions on issues like Medicaid expansion and transgender rights… When asked about blocking a Medicaid expansion that could benefit 400,000 people, he was defensive, suggesting that it’s simply too expensive. “Tell me which school program or transportation program you want to cut? You tell me, then I’ll tell you whether I agree with you or not,” he said, suggesting that expanding Medicaid would mean cutting other things. When asked why the state can’t just fund both things, given that the federal government is taking the lion’s share of Medicaid funding, he simply responded that it’s the same tax dollars. We followed up by asking about people who don’t receive care because they can’t afford it. “Excuse me, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Anybody can get emergency care at any hospital which services Medicaid, that’s a federal law,” he responded. We followed up once more, pointing out that people are going bankrupt from health care bills and that you can’t treat a long-term chronic condition through emergency room visits. “You are of an era that the only answers are coupled to federal money,” he said, pointing at us. But it appears that his era just ended.”

Politico: In his victory speech to supporters at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, Murphy tied his win to a backlash against the Trump administration. “We will stand firm for New Jersey’s values and push back against the mean winds blowing at us from Washington D.C.,” Murphy said, decrying “mean-spirited actions to gut our health care.”

New Hampshire Public Radio: The two candidates more or less saw eye to eye on the issue — that is, except when it came to re-upping Medicaid expansion. When asked by host Laura Knoy whether she’d advocate for keeping the state’s Medicaid Expansion program going, Craig replied, “absolutely,” saying it was crucial to addressing the drug epidemic. Gatsas on the other hand — said he wanted to wait to see what state lawmakers would do.

WMUR: Manchester voters have decided that the city will have its first-ever woman mayor in January, when Mayor-elect Joyce Craig takes the oath of office. The former alderman and school board member ousted four-term Mayor Ted Gatsas on Tuesday, winning nine of the city’s 12 wards.

Florida Politics: “Make no mistake, there is a fight in Washington D.C. about the future of health care,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. The mayor, facing a reelection election tomorrow that is too close to call, used the opportunity to tout his Healthy St. Pete initiative, which has been led by Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin.

WTSP: Rick Kriseman defeated Rick Baker with 51 percent of the vote to earn a second term as mayor.

AP: The referendum represents the first time since the law took effect that the question of expansion had been put in front of U.S. voters… This may not be the last state vote. Backers of Medicaid expansion in Idaho and Utah have started similar efforts to get the question on the 2018 ballots in their own states.