After Maine Voters Approve Medicaid Expansion, Governor Raises Objections : Shots

Rosemary Warnock, a registered nurse at Maine Health, exits the Merrill Auditorium voting station in Portland, Maine, early Tuesday. She mentioned she was motivated to vote for Medicaid enlargement.

Ben McCanna/Press Herald by way of Getty Images


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Ben McCanna/Press Herald by way of Getty Images

Rosemary Warnock, a registered nurse at Maine Health, exits the Merrill Auditorium voting station in Portland, Maine, early Tuesday. She mentioned she was motivated to vote for Medicaid enlargement.

Ben McCanna/Press Herald by way of Getty Images

Just hours after Maine voters turned the primary within the nation to make use of the poll field to increase Medicaid below the Affordable Care Act, Republican Gov. Paul LePage mentioned he would not implement it until the Legislature funds the state’s share of an enlargement.

“Give me the money and I will enforce the referendum,” LePage mentioned. Unless the Legislature absolutely funds the enlargement — with out elevating taxes or utilizing the state’s wet day fund – he mentioned he would not implement it.

LePage has lengthy been a staunch opponent of Medicaid enlargement. The Maine Legislature has handed payments to increase the insurance coverage program 5 occasions since 2013, however the governor has vetoed every one.

That observe document prompted Robyn Merrill, co-chair of the coalition Mainers for Health Care, to take the matter on to voters on Tuesday.

The technique labored. Medicaid enlargement, or Question 2, handed handily, with 59 % of voters in favor and 41 % in opposition to.

“Maine is sending a strong and weighty message to politicians in Augusta, and across the country,” Merrill mentioned. “We need more affordable health care, not less.”

Medicaid enlargement would convey well being protection to about 70,000 individuals in Maine.

As a battle now brews over implementation in Maine, different states will possible be watching: teams in Idaho and Utah are attempting to place Medicaid enlargement on their state ballots subsequent 12 months.

Maine Voters Will Decide If They Want More Access To Medicaid

With pbadage of the poll measure, Maine is poised to affix the 31 states and the District of Columbia which have already expanded Medicaid to cowl adults with incomes as much as 138 % of the federal poverty stage. That’s about $16,000 for a person, and about $34,000 for a household of 4.

Currently, individuals in Maine who make an excessive amount of for conventional Medicaid and who aren’t eligible for backed medical insurance on the federal market fall right into a protection hole. It was created when the Supreme Court made Medicaid enlargement below the Affordable Care Act non-obligatory.

That’s the state of affairs Kathleen Phelps finds herself in. She’s a hairdresser from Waterville who has emphysema and continual obstructive pulmonary illness. She says she has needed to forgo her medicines and oxygen as a result of she will’t afford them. “Finally, finally, maybe people now people like myself can get the healthcare we need,” she mentioned.

Medicaid enlargement would even be a win for hospitals. More than half of them in Maine are working within the purple. Across the state, they supply greater than $100 million a 12 months in charity care, in response to the Maine Hospital Association. Expanding Medicaid protection will bolster their fiscal well being and provides medical doctors and nurses extra choices to deal with their previously uninsured sufferers, says Jeff Austin, a spokesman with the affiliation.

“There are just avenues of care that open up when you see a patient from recommending a prescription drug or seeing a counselor,” he mentioned. “Doors that were closed previously will now be open.”

But voter approval will not be sufficient. Though a legislative funds evaluation workplace estimates Medicaid enlargement would result in $500 million in federal funding to Maine every per 12 months, it will additionally value the state about $50 million a 12 months.

The destiny of the Medicaid enlargement will now be within the fingers of the legislature, the place lawmakers can change it like another invoice. Four poll initiatives handed by Maine voters final 12 months have been delayed, altered or overturned.

But state Democratic leaders pledge to implement the measure. “Any attempts to illegally delay or subvert the law … will be fought with every recourse at our disposal,” Speaker of the House Sara Gideon mentioned. “Mainers demanded affordable access to health care yesterday, and that is exactly what we intend to deliver.”

This story is a part of a reporting partnership with NPR, native member stations and Kaiser Health News. Follow @PattyWight on Twitter




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