Maine OKs Medicaid expansion in first-of-its-kind referendum

Residents in Maine grappling using a heroin epidemic in addition to an aging population voted Tuesday to deliver a rebuke to Republican Gov. Paul LePage in addition to join 31 additional states which have expanded Medicaid under former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The referendum represents initially since the law took effect which the question of expansion had been put in front of U.S. voters.

Some 11 million people inside country have gotten coverage through the expansion of Medicaid, a health insurance program for low-income people.

LePage vetoed all 5 different attempts by the state Legislature to expand the program. Tuesday’s vote follows repeated failures by President Donald Trump, a LePage ally, in addition to his fellow Republicans in Congress to repeal the signature legislation of Obama, a Democrat.

“which will be an exciting night in Maine, yet also an exciting night for the country,” said David Farmer, spokesman for pro-expansion Mainers For Health Care. “Voters have made which clear they want more health care, not less.”

For supporters in addition to opponents of “Obamacare,” Maine’s question took on the form of a referendum on one of the most important pieces of the Affordable Care Act. Votes to expand had a nearly 60 percent edge late Tuesday, with more than three-quarters of precincts reporting.

The contest took place in a politically charged atmosphere with GOP efforts to undermine, or repeal, the health overhaul. Here inside nation’s Northeast corner, the issue was personal to many in a rural state which has the nation’s oldest population in addition to the region’s lowest wages in addition to has suffered through a string of mill closings.

Passage of the proposal means an estimated 70,000 people in Maine can gain health coverage. About 268,000 people currently receive Medicaid inside state.

Maine’s governor blamed an earlier Medicaid expansion for increasing state hospital debt, in addition to he opposes giving able-bodied people more access to Medicaid.

LePage often summarizes his argument by saying: “Free will be expensive to somebody.” He also warned which he could have to divert $54 million through additional programs — for the elderly, disabled in addition to children — to pay for the state’s share of the expansion once which’s fully implemented.

LePage’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Maine Republican Party Chairwoman Demi Kouzounas said she was “disappointed” by the result in addition to which the party will continue to oppose “more dependence on government.”

Mainers For Health Care touted the proposal as a “common sense move” to ensure health care coverage for more people. Maine’s hospitals also supported the Medicaid expansion in addition to say charity care costs them over $100 million annually.

The initiative’s supporters have reported spending about $2 million on their campaign, with hundreds of thousands of dollars coming through out-of-state groups. By comparison, the lead political action committee established to oppose the measure has spent a bit less than $300,000.

which may not be the last state vote. Backers of Medicaid expansion in Idaho in addition to Utah have started out similar efforts to get the question on the 2018 ballots in their own states.

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