With the midterm election, another 300,000 Americans will soon be eligible for Medicaid. The people in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah voted to extend the health care program for low-income people, many of whom are over age 50.
AARP’s recent article, “Medicaid to Expand in 3 States,” reports that with the passage of ballot measures in those three states, there are now 37 states, including DC, that have expanded the Medicaid program since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) created the opportunity to offer more people coverage. The program is jointly funded by the federal government and states.
The success of the three ballot measures “is a recognition that Medicaid plays an important role in our society for those who are in need and that it’s an issue that has changed a great deal over the past five or six years from a political standpoint,” says John Hishta, AARP senior vice president for campaigns. “I think the voters have led the way in some of these states.”
Montana voters rejected a measure that would have increased tobacco taxes on cigarettes and taxed other tobacco products to pay for the state’s share of Medicaid expansion, veterans’ mental health and home- and community-based services. Nearly 130,000 low-income residents in that state may now lose their Medicaid eligibility in 2019, if the state Legislature doesn’t act.
The mid-term election results in three other states could have implications for their Medicaid programs as well. Maine’s Democratic Governor-elect Janet Mills supports expanding Medicaid. The state’s voters decided in 2017 to expand the program, but the current governor, Republican Paul LePage, refused to implement the expansion.
Kansas’ Democrat Governor-elect Laura Kelly stated in the campaign that she’d push for legislation to expand Medicaid during her first year in office. In 2017 the Republican-controlled Kansas House of Representatives and Senate passed legislation to extend Medicaid, but the current Governor Sam Brownback vetoed it. The Legislature couldn’t override his veto.
Wisconsin’s Governor-elect Tony Evers says he wants to expand Medicaid, which would provide coverage to at least an additional 80,000 people in that state.
Expanding Medicaid gives an opportunity for those between the ages of 50 and 64 who are in need but who don’t have access to Medicare to get health coverage. Most of these people work but don’t have access to health insurance.
Reference: AARP (November 8, 2018) “Medicaid to Expand in 3 States”