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A Surprise Win In Alabama For Doug Jones...And For Health Care

On Tuesday, the U.S. saw an early holiday miracle: Doug Jones, a Democrat and former federal prosecutor, won the special election to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate. The race was held to fill the seat of Jeff Sessions, who left his post in February upon appointment as the new U.S. Attorney General by President Trump and was temporarily replaced by then Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.

The last time a Democrat was elected to represent Alabama in the Senate was back in 1992 with the election of the state’s current senior Senator, Richard Shelby, who later went on to switch his party affiliation and become a Republican. The win came after a scandal-ridden campaign season, with the revelation that the GOP-backed and Trump-endorsed candidate for the seat, Roy Moore, made multiple inappropriate sexual advances on minors when he was in his thirties.

The election was particularly important for people living with and affected by HIV and health care in general. When Senator-elect Jones is formally sworn-in, Republicans will only hold a 51-49 seat majority, making the chances of their passing harmful legislation that would severely decrease health care access—like their tax bill—more slim, though still not impossible.

AIDS service organizations (ASOs) in Alabama knew the importance of the election and did amazing work to expand their clients’ voting rights and protect health care. Kathie Hiers of AIDS Alabama spoke with pride about the efforts of her staff, especially the Civic Engagement Coordinator, in the months leading up to the election and on election day. AIDS Alabama hosted several events to assist people in registering to vote, and also worked with their own clients to restore their voting rights after they had become ineligible. On the day of the election itself, Ms. Hiers said that the staff was driving voters to the polls all day, making sure those who wanted to vote could.

As a non-partisan organization, AIDS Alabama focused their efforts on educating Alabamians about the health care issues that the election would affect. Jones, a supporter of the Affordable Care Act, is likely to vote against the sneaky repeal in the tax bill mentioned above. He is also expected to bolster votes on other health care legislation, such as legislation to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program and community health centers. Alabama ASOs will do their part to educate Mr. Jones on issues affecting the HIV community, which Ms. Hiers is confident he will be sympathetic to because of Jones’s long history as an advocate for civil rights and the disenfranchised in the state.

“It’s a new day in Alabama,” Ms. Hiers affirmed, “because we finally have an ally.”

Health care saw a win on Tuesday, but the fight isn’t over yet. Click here to be connected with your elected officials to urge them not to vote for any legislation that decreases health care access or cuts Medicare and Medicaid funding.


Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department - Friday, December 15, 2017

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