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’Tis the season for “state of the state” speeches, and governors are using their platforms to take on the opioid crisis, promise improvements in mental health care — and push back against President Trump’s plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Here’s a look at some of the most notable health care themes raised by governors around the country.

The opioid crisis

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) took aim at doctors in his state for prescribing 200 million pain pills in one year: “I’m a health care guy, and I’ll stand with my former colleagues when their clinical judgment is being improperly maligned. But not this time.”


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) called for compassion, rather than punishment, for those struggling with addiction: “We want to continue to pretend that it is isolated to one class of people or one type of family in our state. We want to continue to take the same approaches we have taken for 30 years or more — to jail those who have this disease. We want to close our eyes and hope this scourge passes by our own homes — if we hope and pray just hard enough to make it so. Well, hoping and praying alone will not make it better. Arresting, jailing, and stigmatizing the victims will not make it better.”

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (D) made a push for treatment: “I’ll also propose funding to support recovery housing for Rhode Islanders struggling with the disease of addiction. … We simply cannot afford to let up.”


Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb (R) pledged tougher law enforcement: “This is a problem that is taking an enormous toll across the country, and Indiana has not escaped the pain. … We [plan] to limit the amount of controlled substances, prescriptions and refills, enhance penalties for those who commit pharmacy robberies, and upgrade the Indiana State Police labs to fight the drug epidemic. This is a fight we can and we must win.”

Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) put the challenge in stark terms: “This battle continues to be one of the great challenges of our time. How we react, and how we choose to respond to it, will be remembered long after our service has ended.”

The Affordable Care Act

Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) vowed to save health care coverage for his constituents: “We will fight and keep fighting to protect the 750,000 Washingtonians who finally have health insurance, thanks to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion.”

California Governor Jerry Brown (D) pledged to protect the 5 million California residents who’ve benefited from the ACA: “That coverage has come with tens of billions of federal dollars. Were any of that to be taken away, our state budget would be directly affected, possibly devastated. That is why I intend to join with other governors — and with you — to do everything we can to protect the health care of our people.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) warned of turmoil ahead: “With respect to helping Michigan, in particular though, when it comes to the federal government, we hope for the best, but can’t count on it. There’s going to be changes in health care.”

Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) cautioned against rolling back progress: “Here in Oregon, 95 percent of adults, and 98 percent of children now have access to health care. We should not and cannot stop until every Oregonian is covered. Health care is about more than just seeing a doctor.”

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) stood up for young adults on their parents’ insurance: “Parents should remain able to cover their children under their policies until they reach age 26.”

Mental health

Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) called for transforming the mental health system “to one that is patient-centered, community-based and prevention-focused, so we can provide people with the right treatment at the right time in the right setting.”

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) asked for more money: “I’ve asked for $5 million to be set aside in the budget for Mental Health Stabilization Centers and crisis intervention training. That will be a start in helping our law enforcement community and those who deal with crisis circumstances to identify mental illness, to identify the help that is needed, and to provide that help.”

Veterans’ health

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (R) urged legislators to strike down barriers to mental health care for veterans: “There are approximately 61,288 active military personnel, 27,233 reservists and 752,000 veterans currently in Georgia. They have given of themselves to protect us. It is only fitting that we should protect them in kind. … I have also allocated for a Women Veterans Coordinator position who will work with female veterans that have suffered military sexual trauma, offering counseling and assistance with veterans’ claims and appeals.”

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) praised progress in improving access for veterans: “We funded the opening of two new veterans care centers so that Virginia men and women who have served in uniform no longer have to wait for the federal government to get its act together to get the health care they need.”

Abortion and reproductive health care

Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) staunchly defended women’s health care: “Washington will remain a place where women have access to the full range of health care and family planning services they need, a place where we continue to fight for equal pay and equal opportunity.”

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) touted progress in reducing abortions: “[This administration has focused on efforts such as] the need to save innocent life — we’ve increased the number of mothers choosing life and health, for themselves and their children.”

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R) pledged to defund groups that provide abortions: “[Our budget] redirects family planning money to organizations that focus on providing health care for women and eliminates taxpayer funding for organizations that perform abortions.”

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