For those of us here in Southwestern Connecticut commute across the border, it can be hard to remember that the policies that govern our day-to-day lives flow from Connecticut’s General Assembly and Constitutional offices in Hartford.
Given the polarized political world in which we live today, it’s refreshing to know that over the years, the Connecticut General Assembly has been able to pass legislation, often on a bipartisan basis, that protects us if and when things run amuck in Washington.
The possibility that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement on the Supreme Court will intentionally unravel her legacy makes it urgent that our state be ready to respond on a range of issues and rights, where we have legal purview, to protect Connecticut’s residents. Reassuringly, we have already codified some of the fundamental protections that we need.
Take health care for example. Way back in 1990, when the Supreme Court had already started to tinker around the edges of Roe v Wade, a strong coalition of advocates and lawmakers pushed for our state to protect access to legal abortion if the Court ever reversed its position. Thirty years later, abortion will remain safe and accessible in Connecticut, even if a new Supreme Court majority decides that women’s reproductive lives and health are not their own. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen, but if it does, Connecticut will respect women’s private, personal decisions.
We understand that, if the current nominee is confirmed, the Supreme Court may also be poised to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Luckily for us, Connecticut embraced the ACA early, expanded our Medicaid program with federal support, and nearly ten years ago, formed a state insurance exchange, which has resulted in life-saving health coverage for thousands of our residents. Coverage, especially for costly pre-existing health conditions (one of which could now be Covid), simply should not be up for debate.
But the CT General Assembly (CGA) has already anticipated a day when Congress or the Supreme Court could intervene and upend the Affordable Care Act (which Republicans in Washington have been trying to do for a decade). In 2018 the CGA passed Public Act 18-10, a law that codified insurance coverage of the ten “essential health benefits” and mandated expanded coverage of preventive health benefits for women, children and adolescents. This includes covering services ranging from emergency care, hospitalization, mental health care, and prescription drugs (including contraceptives), as well as annual well-woman visits and other important screenings.
Both of these bills were passed in Hartford with the support of state legislators from both parties. Which is why, in states like Connecticut, we need to maintain our tradition of listening to one another and crossing the aisle to create necessary public policy.
This is why I support Stephanie Thomas for State Representative in district 143. She is a candidate who will locate common ground, then claim it, as we enter the next stages of our fight: for affordable and accessible healthcare, for voting rights, to save our environment, to feel secure from gun violence, and to make sure college is affordable for our families.