Politics

Published on August 5th, 2018 | by Guest Contributor

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Could Health Care Flip This Ohio Congressional Seat?

By Chelsea Kiene

Health care has become a defining issue in the 2018 midterm elections. In the face of Republican-driven health care sabotage efforts — from repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in Congress to the Trump administration’s numerous actions aimed at undermining the health care law — voters consistently say that health care is their top issue this election cycle.

Ohio voters are no exception. Next week in central Ohio, the GOP health care sabotage campaign could backfire on Republicans, helping to flip a U.S. House seat that has been under Republican control for more than three decades.

On Tuesday, August 7, voters in Ohio’s 12th congressional district (OH-12) will have the opportunity to cast their votes in a special election that is drawing national attention. The race — currently a toss-up between Danny O’Connor, the Democratic nominee, and Troy Balderson, the Republican nominee — isn’t just the last congressional contest before the November midterms. The race also carries major implications for the future of Ohioans’ health care.

And the differences between the candidates’ health care stances couldn’t be starker.

“…Unlike Balderson, O’Connor does not support raising the eligibility age for Medicare, which provides health coverage to more than 2 million Ohioans.”

Troy Balderson, who pledges to join the Republican health care sabotage campaign by repealing the Affordable Care Act if elected to Congress, is an outspoken opponent of Ohio’s Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion has helped more than 700,000 Ohioans gain access to health care, providing life-changing coverage to Ohioans who previously struggled to obtain quality, affordable health insurance. As a state senator, Troy Balderson also voted to kick 500,000 Ohioans off of their health insurance by freezing Ohio’s Medicaid expansion.

Democratic candidate Danny O’Connor, by contrast, is committed to protecting and expanding Ohioans’ access to affordable health care.

 

The son of a breast cancer survivor, Danny O’Connor believes that everyone — regardless of their income or medical history — deserves access to quality healthcare. And unlike Balderson, O’Connor does not support raising the eligibility age for Medicare, which currently provides health coverage to more than 2 million Ohioans.

When it comes to health care access and affordability, the stakes in the OH-12 special election are high. Ohio’s 12th congressional district has greatly benefited under the Affordable Care Act: The health care law has helped dramatically decrease the uninsured rate in the district, and more than 15,000 OH-12 residents now receive health coverage through the ACA exchange. The health care law also protects an estimated 328,300 residents in OH-12 from being discriminated against for having a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes, cancer, or a previous heart attack or stroke.

If this progress is rolled back or gutted altogether, millions of Americans — including thousands of individuals living in OH-12 — will feel the impact.

Already, Republican health care sabotage has left Ohioans with higher health care premiums and more uncertainty about the future of their coverage. One analysis estimates that a typical family of four in OH-12 will see their health care premiums increase an average $2,390 in 2019, thanks to Republican attempts to undo the Affordable Care Act. A 55-year-old couple in the district will see their premiums jump an average $2,630. Meanwhile, if current efforts to overturn protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions are successful, an estimated 26,600 OH-12 residents would lose their health coverage.

As voters in OH-12 continue to cast their ballots through the August 7 special election, they should stand with the candidate who will stand up for their health care.

That candidate is Danny O’Connor.

Chelsea Kiene is the Deputy Communications Director of For Our Future Ohio. For Our Future Ohio is a statewide coalition organization that builds progressive power through voter engagement and community organizing to strengthen public education, create shared economic prosperity, advance social and racial justice, and preserve the environment.

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