Michael Parent will get directions on submitting his poll whereas voting Tuesday in Portland, Maine. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)
Less than two months after Republicans’ newest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act imploded, a purple state simply made a decidedly blue-state transfer to basically increase Obamacare.
On Tuesday, Maine turned the first state to increase Medicaid with a poll initiative. And it handed overwhelmingly: Maine voters agreed to grant well being care to an estimated 70,000 low-income residents by an almost 20-percentage level margin by the point the measure was referred to as by election watchers. In different phrases, a large variety of voters in Maine simply voted to do the precise reverse of what the state’s Republican governor and Republicans in Washington have been making an attempt to do.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bipartisan legislative deal to increase Medicaid underneath the Affordable Care Act at the least 5 occasions. Since Republicans took management of Washington in January, they’ve spent greater than half the 12 months making an attempt to repeal Obamacare with proposals that might have drastically minimize Medicaid. But Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins (R) was one of many defining “no” votes that finally ended the GOP efforts, saying the plans would pull the rug out from too many in her state.
What occurred in Maine might present momentum for progressives to get voters in different states to increase Medicaid, comparable to Alaska and Idaho, the place teams have already began related Medicaid growth poll initiatives subsequent 12 months.
“This will send a clear signal to where the rest of the country is on health care,” mentioned Jonathan Schleifer, government director of the Fairness Project, which helped put collectively the poll initiative. As Republicans have tried to roll again Obamacare, public badist for an lively authorities position in well being care has spiked.
Schleifer mentioned his group has spent the previous 12 months in Maine — and a few $2 million — laying the groundwork for this. After Trump gained the election and Republicans held on to Congress, they went to their tried-and-true technique of poll initiatives to attempt to struggle again.
“Looking at what progressives were able to accomplish by ballot initiatives in 2016, we asked ourselves what do we do for biggest challenge out there, which is the threat to Affordable Care Act,” Schleifer mentioned. “We asked ourselves: What can we do to not just hold the line but to advance things?”
Schleifer is true. The left has had spectacular success over the previous 4 years going round Republican legislatures to alter state coverage on all the pieces from weapons and minimal wage with poll initiatives. In truth, when put to the voters over the previous 20 years, minimal wage will increase have hardly ever misplaced.
Last November was no completely different. Voters in 4 out of 4 states resoundingly authorized minimal wage hikes in 2016. (The final time Congress authorized a minimal wage hike, George W. Bush was president.) In Arizona, the vote for a excessive minimal wage outperformed Trump by 10 share factors. Voters in eight of 9 states additionally voted to ease restrictions on marijuana, and three of 4 states voted to place in place gun restrictions.
[Winners and losers of the biggest state political battles of the year]
Ballot initiatives are an essential device for progressives within the Trump period, similar to how conservatives used them within the ’90s when Democrats dominated authorities. Other nationwide teams descended on Maine to badist this cross. Planned Parenthood’s Maine political group mentioned they knocked on over eight,600 doorways in Portland over the past week of the election.
Not all progressive poll advocates are as bullish on Maine’s poll initiative to alter the health-care panorama.
Kellie Dupree with the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, which helps progressive teams strategize poll initiatives, mentioned increasing Medicaid generally is a robust promote because it requires taxpayer cash.
“We’ll wait to see how these policies shape up,” she mentioned.
Most of Democrats’ causes to rejoice this previous 12 months has been the absence of laws. So on the very least, increasing Medicaid in a state like Maine is a notable change of tempo for a celebration largely locked out of energy.