- Maine voters approved expanding Medicaid in the state under the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday.
- The vote allows Maine to become the 32nd state to expand Medicaid, which will provide coverage to at least 80,000 additional residents. The state’s legislative body has previously approved expansion, but Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) has vetoed those measures.
- In other election news, Ohio residents rejected a proposal meant to curb drug prices by requiring state agencies to pay no more than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does for medicines. Also, gains for Democrats in Virginia’s state house make Medicaid expansion in that state far more likely than it has been previously.
The Maine referendum passed by about 60%. It’s the first time such a vote has been tried, and the success will likely prompt more expansion proponents to push for putting the issue on the ballot. States to watch in this area include Idaho, Utah and Kansas.
Healthcare was certainly on the mind of many voters Tuesday. Exit polls from Virginia show that nearly 40% of voters said healthcare was the issue that matters most to them. The next most important issue was gun policy, with 17% of voters listing it first.
The result from Ohio is not surprising. A similar proposal in California was not approved last year, and a lot of Ohio residents said they were confused by the proposal and did not understand its implications.
The timeline for implementing Medicaid expansion is unclear. LePage will likely continue to his opposition and delay the process as much as possible.
Medicaid expansion has been a boon for states that have tried it. Research shows that hospitals in expansion states have seen improved operating margins and reduced uncompensated care costs compared to hospitals in non-expansion states. Expansion states have also reported gains in population health, economic growth and employment rates.