One Year Ago We Expanded Medicaid–Now Go Vote!

It seems like yesterday we achieved a major victory here in Virginia. After years of debate and roadblocks, the Virginia state Senate voted on May 30, 2018 to expand access to affordable healthcare to 400,000 Virginians. It took six years of tireless advocacy from activists, community members, unions, and grassroots organizations, but on that day a few Senate conservatives caved to public pressure and supported Medicaid expansion.

A supporter of Medicaid expansion holds a sign at the ceremony where Governor Ralph Northam signed the budget enacting expansion to 400,000 Virginians.
A supporter of Medicaid expansion holds a sign at the ceremony where Governor Ralph Northam signed the budget enacting expansion to 400,000 Virginians.

I was in the Senate gallery that night and the feeling was truly electric. “WE WON!” we shouted, wiping away tears as we hugged our comrades while celebrating our victory at the state Capitol. Our advocacy was critical to building a wave of public support for Medicaid expansion. The tide turned in our favor when Virginia voters sent a bunch of anti-expansion Republican incumbents packing in the 2017 House of Delegates election.

We made that happen by casting our votes for 15 progressive candidates who ran their campaigns on the promise of expanding Medicaid. We also did it by turning out in massive numbers for the 2017 elections–-turnout in that election was the highest it’s been in 20 years! We need you to vote again in 2019 and to stay on top of election priorities by signing on to the Virginia For All of Us Campaign.

We ALMOST had a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans in the House of Delegates (thanks to a tied election that was decided by drawing names out of film canisters, we didn’t get it), but we settled for 49-50. Last year, 49 progressive lawmakers was enough to force the hand of conservatives.  They couldn’t say no to the overwhelming pressure from inside and outside the state Capitol demanding affordable healthcare in Virginia.

Medicaid Expansion Wouldn’t Have Happened Without Your Vote

If we didn’t have massive voter turnout in the 2017 General Assembly elections, we wouldn’t have gotten Medicaid expansion. Four hundred thousand Virginians would still be struggling to access quality, affordable health care. Nearly two years have passed since the 2017 election and guess what? We have another General Assembly election coming up in November 2019! It’s going to be even better this time because we’re electing lawmakers to the House of Delegates AND the Senate.

Your vote is as crucial in this upcoming election as it was in 2017–-we need you at the polls on November 5!  Virginia’s blue wave from the 2017 election continued with last year’s midterm election when we gave the boot to three Republican incumbents, making Virginia’s Congressional delegation majority Democrat and elected three new women. Now it’s time for a blue TSUNAMI with the 2019 election. We must take both the state Senate and the House of Delgates for our future. For All Of Us.

We Need You at the Polls November 5!

So much is at stake with this election! Forty nine votes got us Medicaid expansion but there’s so much more we need to do and we can’t do it without a majority:

  • Protecting a person’s right to decide when and whether to start a family
  • Redrawing district voting lines to ensure communities of color have a real say in who represents them
  • Funding our public school system so that EVERY child has a chance to succeed
  • Becoming the first Southern state to cap carbon gas emissions
  • Guaranteeing everyone in the Commonwealth has access to birth control
  • Ending Virginia’s cash bail system so that people aren’t stuck in jail simply because they can’t pay to get out
  • Passing paid family and medical leave to support everyone’s ability to care for themselves and their families
  • Establishing a Borrowers’ Bill of Rights to protect student loan borrowers

Now, are you as EXCITED as I am about the November 5 election? Good! Do you like all of the priorities I just mentioned? You do?! Take a second to sign on to the Virginia For All Of Us campaign, where we believe everyone should have the opportunity to thrive, no exceptions.  And don’t forget to make your voice heard by voting in the state primary elections on June 11.

Check Out Our Other Blogs on Medicaid Expansion and Voting: