SEVERE WX : Red Flag Warning - Freeze Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid in these red states

There are still a few states where Republican governors and lawmakers refuse to expand Medicaid. But residen...

Posted: Sep 1, 2018 3:19 AM
Updated: Sep 1, 2018 3:19 AM

There are still a few states where Republican governors and lawmakers refuse to expand Medicaid. But residents may force their hands at the polls in November.

Voters in Utah, Idaho and Nebraska will decide whether to accept the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion provision, while those who live in Montana will vote on whether to maintain the expansion beyond July 2019.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Government health insurance

Health and medical

Health care

Health insurance

Insurance

Medicaid

Social assistance and welfare

Society

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Politics

Voters and voting

Ballots

Continents and regions

North America

Southwestern United States

The Americas

United States

Utah

Idaho

Northwestern United States

Referendums

The ballot measures come a year after Maine's residents gave the thumbs up to expansion by a 59% to 41% margin in a first-of-its-kind referendum. However, it has yet to go into effect there as Republican Governor Paul LePage continues to resist implementing it. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court last week ordered the governor to submit an expansion plan to the federal government.

Some 31 states plus the District of Columbia have already expanded Medicaid, which broadens coverage to Americans with incomes up to 138% of the poverty level, or about $17,000 for an individual and $35,000 for a family of four. Virginia will join the club in 2019, after lawmakers there approved expansion earlier this year.

The victory in Maine buoyed efforts in other red states, where activists were already organizing.

"We found a new strategy for expanding Medicaid in states where politicians simply refuse to ... going over their heads and straight to voters," said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, which provides funding and guidance to grassroots campaigns.

To get on the ballot, advocates in each state had to gather tens of thousands of signatures. Early polls show voters back expansion, they say.

The campaign in Idaho began when two high school friends and one's wife toured the state last summer in a bright green 1977 Dodge camper -- with "Medicaid for Idaho" emblazoned on the side. They were trying to raise support for Medicaid expansion by talking about those who earn too much to qualify for the safety net program but can't afford coverage on the Obamacare exchanges. The trio, along with many volunteers, collected double the 56,000 signatures needed, said Emily Strizich, co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, which led the effort.

"We realized there is a lot of energy around health care," she said. "So many people had a parent, sibling or co-worker fall into the coverage gap."

Some 91,000 residents would qualify for coverage if Idaho expands, and the state will receive $368 million in federal funds for expansion in fiscal 2021, its first full year, said Strizich, citing an actuarial report done for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. (The federal government picks up at least 90% of the tab.)

In Utah, where past attempts to expand Medicaid failed in the state's lower chamber, organizers had only three months to gather at least 113,000 signatures. They easily cleared that bar by going to community events, knocking on doors and turning to social media, said RyLee Curtis, campaign manager for Utah Decides Healthcare. The group will start running television and radio ads next month in hopes of convincing voters to support the measure at the polls.

Advocates are calling attention to the fact that 150,000 residents will gain coverage, and Utah will receive $800 million in federal funds for expansion annually, Curtis said. The ballot measure also calls for raising the sales tax on non-grocery items by 0.15% to pay for the state's 10% share of the expansion.

"This campaign is about letting Utahans decide," Curtis said. "It transcends politicians."

Nebraska organizers also collected far more signatures than they needed using similar tactics. Some 90,000 residents will gain coverage, more than two-thirds of whom work but their jobs don't provide health insurance, said Meg Mandy, campaign manager for Insure the Good Life, which is promoting expansion in the Cornhusker State. Also, expansion will bring the state $1.1 billion in federal funding over four years and sustain 10,000 jobs, many of which are in rural areas.

The ballot measures do have their opponents. In Nebraska, a Republican state senator and a former legislator unsuccessfully challenged the expansion initiative in court. The Idaho Republican Party passed a resolution in June opposing the ballot measure.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 41348

Reported Deaths: 649
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah8955159
Marion5684107
Washington561274
Umatilla332844
Clackamas306165
Lane229427
Malheur189737
Jackson16176
Deschutes109813
Yamhill98315
Linn78815
Polk64315
Jefferson6009
Morrow5436
Lincoln51113
Union4652
Benton4336
Klamath4053
Wasco34715
Douglas3425
Hood River2771
Josephine2623
Columbia2531
Clatsop2370
Coos2360
Baker1143
Crook1002
Tillamook700
Curry571
Wallowa402
Lake340
Harney210
Sherman180
Gilliam110
Grant110
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 898799

Reported Deaths: 17305
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2968216974
Riverside657571279
San Bernardino617261070
Orange580101440
San Diego53928867
Kern33669416
Fresno30471436
Sacramento25094482
Santa Clara23881388
Alameda23133456
San Joaquin21528488
Contra Costa18413240
Stanislaus17509396
Tulare17425284
Ventura14124162
Imperial12700336
San Francisco12032140
Monterey1128487
San Mateo11002159
Santa Barbara9715120
Merced9439154
Sonoma9163134
Kings820183
Solano728674
Marin7045128
Madera498174
San Luis Obispo412132
Placer408857
Yolo314458
Butte304652
Santa Cruz275325
Napa192815
Shasta183930
Sutter183712
San Benito143215
El Dorado13084
Yuba129310
Mendocino112121
Tehama8528
Lassen7641
Lake67915
Glenn6523
Nevada6038
Humboldt5619
Colusa5496
Calaveras33917
Amador31716
Tuolumne2624
Inyo22715
Siskiyou1880
Del Norte1781
Mono1762
Mariposa782
Plumas630
Modoc290
Trinity260
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
Medford
Overcast
53° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 53°
Brookings
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 57°
Crater Lake
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 39°
Grants Pass
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 45°
Klamath Falls
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 39°
Cold night, windy Sunday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events