‘Tis the season for civic engagement as we head toward the November general election. In September, the U.S. recognized Constitution Day, Citizenship Day, and National Voter Registration Day. Now is the time for everyone to make sure they are registered to vote and they know who is on the ballot for the election. Voting in every election is important, even when the election is an “off-year” election (small-scale and municipal rather than a large-scale presidential election). While 2021 is an off-year election, some states have gubernatorial elections and others may have special Congressional elections in addition to municipal elections. An important consideration when choosing your candidates at the state and federal level is where they stand on health care legislation. But finding healthcare legislation and learning about candidate platforms on healthcare can be difficult. Here are some resources to help you out in upcoming elections.
The resources below will help you find health bills in Congress.
- Congress.gov – You can search Congressional bills by the general term “healthcare bills” (without quotation marks) or by the official and unofficial names of a bill (i.e. Affordable Care Act or Obamacare). There are also many options to narrow your search by congressional session, status, etc.
- GovTrack.com – This site also allows you to look up bills. The link I provided takes you to the section on health bills, and you can narrow your search by choosing from various subcategories and other limiters. You can sign up for a free account on the site and then select the “track subject” feature which will send you updates on legislation about the topic(s) you choose. Sign up is needed so the site has your email address to provide the updates. If you don’t want to sign up and provide an email address, you can track your subject by subscribing to an RSS feed.
Healthcare and Candidate Information
The following resources don’t allow you to track bills through Congress, but they do provide access to news and background information that can be helpful in understanding legislation.
- Google News – If there is a healthcare bill or topic in the news that you’re interested in following, you can set up a Google News alert to be notified when articles are published on this topic or bill. If you’re not sure how to set up an alert, check out Google’s “create an alert” help page.
- Department of Health and Human Services – The HHS website has a page on laws and regulations. The regulations set out by agencies guide Congress as they carry out public policy.
- Senate and Congressional websites – The U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives websites have information on senators and congress members, and there is also information on legislative activity.
- State department and representative websites – Look for information about candidates, where they stand on healthcare legislation, and healthcare news on your state’s Department of Health website and on the websites for your governor and state representatives.
Candidate Platforms and General Voting Information
The following links can help you find information about a candidate’s views on a variety of topics, and they can also help you find out who is on your ballot, voter registration deadlines, polling locations, and more.
- Ballot Ready – Go to this site and enter your address to find information on candidates and referendums on your ballot. Information is linked to the original source, allowing you to further investigate information.
- Fact Check – This site monitors “the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players” across all media. You may want to check this out after you listen to debates or speeches so you can verify the statistics provided were accurate and were not taken out of context.
- Vote411 – This site provides information on your local candidates and their positions on issues.
- Vote Smart – Vote Smart is a non-partisan organization that collects and provides information on candidates.
Get Out and Vote
Whether it’s an “off-year” election or a major presidential election, it’s important to get informed and then get out and vote. Every election matters, and every vote matters