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Legislatively Speaking

Lena C. Taylor

It’s hard to believe it’s been two and a half years since Congressional Republicans trotted out their American Health Care Act. Introduced in early 2017, the act was going to be the long-awaited replacement in their promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposal was short-lived, lasting a mere 18 days before it was withdrawn. Republican infighting and disagreements caused the bill’s demise. At least, that’s what many wanted to believe.

However, it can’t be overlooked that by the 2017, the favorability of the ACA was on the rise. Many of the provisions like the protection of those with pre-existing conditions, allowing young people to remain on their parent’s insurance until twenty-five, and eliminating out-of-pocket cost for many preventive services, changed the health outcomes and opinions of many Americans. Despite Republican’s will to get rid of the program, they never put together a comparable or sufficient replacement.

Some nine years after it passed, the Affordable Care Act is still standing. It needs tweaking and some work, but it has brought more reduced the number of uninsured Americans. As Democratic candidates for president debate the merits of Medicare for all, a pathway to universal health care, or a public option, we understand that solving the equitable access to healthcare for our citizens is a priority. However, these conversations are not limited to federal legislators. We have a continued obligation, as state legislators, to do everything we can to ensure that Wisconsinites have realistic access to quality healthcare. Of course, that conversations should start with the need for Medicaid expansion.

Under Wisconsin’s Republican controlled legislature, our state remains an outlier. Midwestern states such as Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan, have all expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. In fact, 36 states and Washington, D.C. have seen the light. So, you have to wonder what the resistance in our state is really about? Afterall, there are Republican led legislatures that have bought into expansion around the country. Similarly, it is equally frustrating to watch the lopsided attention to this critical issue among Republican members of Congress. To address the elephant in the room, we know that there were legislators on both the state and federal level, that for no other reason than the ACA was done under former President Barack Obama, there remains an unwillingness to accept the program. Even in the effort to gut the program, ACA is still standing. It’s just a shame, that the health care options and access of Americans in states that refuse to accept across the country continues to fall.

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