Repairing the ACA
My second job out of college was working for the nonprofit Enroll America. The job took me across my county to churches, libraries, workplaces, and more helping people understand The Affordable Care act, which had just passed. My job was to explain how they could find and get afforable healthcare coverage. I loved the job, and it was nice to see people, often low-income people, be able to get access to life-saving treatments and medicine made me feel like I was changing the world for the better. But that work is not done, and The Democrats have more work to do.
The ACA while impressive, was kneecapped from the start with a public option gutted to get moderate senators’ support and a Supreme Court decision preventing the federal government from expanding The Medicaid coverage gap. The Supreme Court’s decision to make optional Medicaid Expansion is something Democrats have been working to correct for years. The Court, in its ruling, made what should have been a simple expansion of a federal program a state-by-state fight and allowed Republicans cover to not expand healthcare because of state budget costs even though the federal government would have covered 90% of the costs. The decision harms low-income Americans, who are already in precarious positions.
Senator Warnock of Georgia offered an amendment to the Democrat’s reconciliation bill to close the Medicaid coverage gap or said another way to expand Medicaid to non-expansion states. The measure failed but would have given at least 2.2 million Americans healthcare coverage in the 12 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid helping low-income Americans and families. This policy would help America get closer to universal coverage, something almost every other developed nation has. The failure to pass this should be the start of a new push for just that. Universal Healthcare should be the policy objective of the Democratic party.
There is a reason I left my first job to work for Enroll America I also believe healthcare is a human right and support a public option, even if it is like Washington State’s attempt to work with private stakeholders to craft a public-private partnership plan. Helping the poor is a central tenant of the Democratic party, and expanding affordable healthcare didn’t end with the ACA’s passage. If Democrats believe healthcare is a right, then they need to act like it Democrats need to pursue The Medicaid coverage gap proposal or state by state Medicaid Expansion and get a federal public option.