Health care touched the 2018 midterm elections at nearly every level last night. The issue, according to many polls, is the top concern for Americans, and this sentiment was credited by many for the biggest headline of the night: the Democrats reclaiming the House of Representatives. It was, of course, the House GOP Caucus that passed arguably the most regressive health care bill in US history this term with its version of Trumpcare.
“Health care and pre-existing conditions won the Democrats the House,” said Chris Matthews to a group of agreeable hosts on MSNBC not long after they called the House for the Democrats. The point was made many times over the course of the evening.
While health care played a role in thousands of elections across the country last night, it played the most central role in several important ballot initiatives across the country. Medicaid expansion, most notably, was on the ballot in four deep-red states and won in three of them: Idaho, Nebraska and Utah. Another Medicaid expansion bill, which was complicated by a tobacco tax, was defeated in Montana. Medical marijuana initiatives also won in Missouri and Utah. An otherwise good night for progressives was tempered by the defeat of proposals for nursing staffing minimums in Massachusetts and a program for elder care in Maine, which was to be paid for with a tax on the wealthy.
In sum, advocates for health care justice felt a message was sent to politicians last night.
“This election proves that politicians who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act got it wrong. Americans want to live in a country where everyone can go to the doctor without going bankrupt. Expanding access to health care isn’t a blue-state value or a red-state value; it’s an American value,” said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, in a statement sent to Truthout this morning. The project supports many ballot…