On Sunday, October 28th, the Southern Maine Workers’ Center held the Rally to Protect and Expand Access to Health Care. The rally connected the dots between the well-known issue of MaineCare expansion, which, while passed by voters has still not been implemented; lesser know attacks on our health care system, including the proposed Section 1115 Waiver which would create, among other things, job requirements for Medicaid; and the growing momentum in a nationwide call for Medicare for All. We’re sharing some of the powerful speeches from the rally so they continue to inspire the health care is a human right movement in Maine.
Kathy Kilrain del Rio, Policy Analyst, Maine Equal Justice
Mainers know that access to affordable health care is a basic human need, no matter our race, gender, background, or how much money we have. That’s why we came together to expand Medicaid at the ballot box last November. Voters across Maine understood that expanding Medicaid, also know as MaineCare, is a commonsense fix to get health care coverage for 70,000 more people in our state. It’s also why we’ve stood up to protect the Affordable Care Act time and time again.
Governor LePage has actively fought against Mainers’ access to this life-saving health care for years and continues to do so today. Despite 59 percent of voters casting a vote for expansion, he has used his power to try to block the will of Maine people by delaying over and over again the implementation of this new law. He will not succeed. We haven’t stood idly by. Together with partner organizations and the support of people who need this coverage, we have taken to the courts to force the LePage administration to follow the law, we worked to pass the funding he claims to need in the legislature – funding he then vetoed. Our family, friends, and neighbors need to be able to get health care and we won’t stop fighting until they do get it.
At the federal level, we continue to face attacks on the Affordable Care Act. And, the Trump administration is eager to add barriers to state Medicaid programs through the 1115 waiver process – even though a federal judge already found that barriers like job requirements are in opposition to the statutory purpose of the Medicaid program which is to serve the health and wellness needs of our nation’s families and individuals with limited incomes. Should Maine’s 1115 waiver be approved, we will fight that as well.
Those politicians who want to reduce access to health care have shown time and again that they will use hateful rhetoric to divide us—often blaming poor people, immigrants, and people of color for the problems with our health care system. The reality is that our economic system and our health care system do not work for people with low incomes without programs like Medicaid. Low-wage jobs without health benefits, the gig economy, discrimination, and our broken immigration system make it difficult if not impossible for many people to gain financial security and get the medical care they need and deserve.
It doesn’t have to be this way. When we join together across our social, economic, and racial differences, we win. Every person in our state deserves access to high quality, affordable, and comprehensive health care. Every one of us. We can make a difference by sharing our stories with our personal networks as well with the media and policymakers. We can make a difference by electing champions for health care who share our values. We can make absolutely make a difference by voting on Nov. 6th just like we voted to expand Medicaid last year. We’re asking Mainers to pledge to be a health care voter and we launched a website to make sure voters have the information they need before they go to the polls or vote early by absentee ballot. You can make the pledge and get more information at healthcarevoter.me.
Together we will create a future where everyone has the health care they need and deserve.