While health care reform was not directly on the ballot in Maine or nationally in the November election, it did have a presence as well as some encouraging results. Let’s take a look at what happened and what it may mean for our work going forward.
Legislative and congressional candidates
Of the 49 legislative candidates endorsed by HealthCare for All Maine, 31 were elected, hailing from Allagash to Sanford. These include seven who have co-sponsored universal health care legislation in recent years.
Rachel Talbot Ross has been nominated as Speaker of the House and is on track to be the first Black legislator to serve in that position. Talbot Ross co-sponsored the universal health care bill LD 1608, “An Act to Expand the MaineCare Program to Cover All Citizens of the State,” in 2021.
Many candidates who support Whole Washington’s universal health care ballot initiative campaign were elected or re-elected.
Candidates who support National Improved Medicare for All or universal health care largely won their races across the country. According to the Nurses’ Campaign for Medicare for All, more than 100 candidates who support Medicare for All have been re-elected, and several races have yet to be called. In addition, 15 M4A advocates were newly elected to Congress, including John Fetterman and Summer Lee in Pennsylvania, Greg Casar in Texas, and Maxwell Frost in Florida. Frost is also the first Gen Z candidate to be elected to Congress.
Through extensive grassroots organizing, MassCare put single-payer health care on the ballot in 20 districts as a non-binding policy question, and it passed in every one.
In Edwardsville Township and Cunningham Township, voters weighed in on non-binding resolutions on “whether the federal government should create a Medicare for All program to ensure equitable, quality and sustainable health care in this nation.” The measures were raised by local citizens at township meetings in April 2022, where majorities voted to place the resolutions on the November ballot. The initiatives won by 64.3% in Edwardsville Township and 84.1% in Cunningham Township.
In Dunn County, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved putting the question of national health care to voters on the November ballot. The measure reads: “Shall Congress and the President of the United States enact into law the creation of a publicly financed, non-profit, national health insurance program that would fully cover medical care costs for all Americans?” It was passed 51% to 49%, a better performance than Democratic candidates in the county.
The initiatives in Illinois and Wisconsin are notable for being passed in rural areas that lean conservative. In Dunn County, organizers focused on the economic costs of our current system and health care reform as a nonpartisan issue.
A constitutional amendment narrowly passed that reads, “It is the obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.” Oregon is the first state to add universal health care to its constitution.
The Oregon Joint Task Force on Universal Health Care notes in their 2022 report that the task force “consulted with professional actuaries to project expenditures and revenue required to fund the Universal Health Plan. In 2026, the Universal Health Plan is estimated to cost $980 million less than the current system. These savings are based on conservative assumptions and are projected to increase with time — an opportunity to counter health care costs that are growing faster than the income of most Oregonians.”
What does it all mean?
The field director for Whole Washington notes that “It’s easy to be swept into the moment to moment of the election cycle, but real progress happens in small steps every day.” We continue our work, day by day, individual people and actions coming together to build a movement.
Those small steps include the efforts of many people across the country who are urging their local governments to pass resolutions in support of national or state health care for all.
More than 100 cities and towns have already done so. In October, Gainesville, FL, Kent, OH, and Denver, CO, passed Medicare for All resolutions,. The Kent measure was initiated by medical students at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, members of Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP), a program of PNHP. These cities followed on the heels of Ojai, CA, Greensboro, NC, and Atlanta, GA, which all passed resolutions in September.
Maine AllCare volunteers have pursued local resolutions around the state and 11 have been passed so far. These resolutions are another way to demonstrate to our elected officials that Maine people want, and need, health care for all. The resolutions urge the Maine Legislature “to create an equitable health plan that provides every Maine resident with comprehensive medical care from birth to death.”
Would you like to pursue a resolution in your town or city? We’re here to help!