In #SOTU Trump Needs To Address Americans’ Concerns About (And Support For) Health Care

Only in Washington, DC can you win elections on promises of fixing health care only to end up making the problem much, much worse.

Since Donald Trump took office a year ago, three and a half million Americans have lost health insurance, and costs are increasing for millions more. At tonight’s State of the Union, voters are demanding to know what he plans to do about it, because health care accounts for nearly 1/5 of our economy but it’s quite literally life and death for American families — the state of the union is the state of our health care.

A Politico poll shows four in five Americans want to hear him talk about his plan for fixing rising costs and sub-par coverage –and they have shown they are prepared to act on their own if Washington won’t. Look no further than the state of Oregon, where just last week voters approved a tax hike to ensure Medicaid recipients can keep their coverage.

An overwhelming sixty percent of voters cast their ballot for Oregon’s Measure 101, approving up to $320 million in taxes on hospitals and insurance plans to support the state’s Medicaid program. Had the measure failed, tens of thousands of Oregonians, including children, seniors and people with disabilities were likely to lose coverage.

As state Rep. Dan Rayfield said about the willingness of voters to pay more in taxes to support their neighbors, “The margin speaks for itself.”

Across the country, the case for more health care, particularly through Medicaid expansion is gaining ground. This has been driven in part by the recent GOP-led effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which just a third of Americans supported, and the ongoing assault on benefits for those who can least afford them. Don’t forget we are paying for all those corporate tax cuts by eliminating the individual mandate, which will drive up premiums and lead to millions more uninsured.

Voters across the country are planning to hold elected officials accountable when it comes to health care. President Trump would do well to listen to them. In a Hart Research poll 68 percent of voters said President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress should abandon their Obamacare repeal efforts and “start working across party lines on commonsense solutions that build on the current law.”

Oregon may be the first state where voters raise taxes via a ballot in support of its Medicaid program, but it is not the first state where voters have taken on the issue at the ballot box. This past November, Maine voters went to the polls in record numbers to expand Medicaid to an additional 70,000 residents, overriding their governor’s repeated vetoes of similar legislation. And momentum keeps building.

This fall, Utah, Idaho, Nebraska and several other states will give voters the same opportunity to cast a ballot to expand Medicaid.

Meanwhile in Washington, our president continues to advocate for roadblocks that make it even harder for working Americans to get the care they need. The Trump Administration announced earlier this month it will allow states to create unnecessary and cruel work requirements for Medicaid recipients; Kentucky and Mississippi legislatures have already taken up that offer.

Is it too much to ask that the president change his tune ahead of the State of the Union? Probably. But as Oregon, Maine and Americans across the country are showing us, there is a clear divide between radical conservative politicians and the people on health care.

Voters from all walks of life and political parties know that every American has a right to quality, affordable health care. If they don’t see Trump stand up to protect their care, they’ll continue to take the offensive and head to the ballot box. The successes in Maine and Oregon are evidence of a growing movement from East to West — and they are only the beginning.