By Keanan McGonigle
The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate, Letters, July 19, 2018
As a future health care professional, I watched with bated breath over the past year as Congress moved to strip our citizens of health insurance time after time. Through the power of advocacy from millions across the country, this thankfully did not come to pass. In our state, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ expansion of Medicaid afforded coverage to 288,641 Louisiana residents.
Yet lawmakers at the federal and state level continue to attack access to health insurance through administrative and legislative maneuvers. U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, who represents the New Orleans and Baton Rouge area, played a key role in fighting back efforts to reduce health coverage. Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District made enormous gains in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, with nearly 86,506 people gaining coverage through the Medicaid expansion.
Yet there are still nearly 87,000 uninsured residents of Rep. Richmond’s district. The time has come for access to health insurance for all become the law of the land. A bill currently in the House of Representatives would make this a reality through expanded and improved Medicare for all.
This law would ensure that all of Richmond’s constituents who gained insurance through Medicaid expansion keep it and expand coverage to those remaining 87,000 uninsured. Passage of the bill would ensure that Richmond would not need to fight attacks on access during every legislative cycle. This bill, HR 676, would only stand to benefit the citizens of Richmond’s district; however, he is not currently a co-sponsor. As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Richmond has demonstrated leadership time and again, showing strength through the events of Charlottesville, Virginia and elsewhere. Yet on this front, Richmond has failed to show the strength that we, his constituents, need.
With 36 out of 43 Democratic members of the CBC — a full 84 percent of membership — already signed on as cosponsors, Richmond is, in fact, lagging behind his colleagues. The time has come for access to health insurance to be a reality for all Americans, but especially for citizens of Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional district. With the reinvigoration of the Poor People’s campaign fighting for a moral budget here in Louisiana and nationwide, now is the time for action. We need Rep. Richmond to stand up and be a leader among his colleagues and for his constituents. Richmond cannot wait any longer — his constituents’ lives depend on it.
The author is a medical student in New Orleans.