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Midterm election boosts Medicaid expansion, but challenges remain


 

‘Fertile ground’ for more referendums

If advocates press for more referendums, Florida might be a tempting target. More than 700,000 adults there could become eligible, but the campaign would likely also be very costly.

Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of the Fairness Project, which financed the ballot initiatives in Maine in 2017 and the four states this year, refused to say which states would be targeted next.

The group is funded by the Service Employees International Union–United Healthcare Workers West, a California health care workers union.

“The GOP has been bashing the ACA for nearly a decade, and voters in the reddest states in the country just rejected that message,” Mr. Schleifer said. “It’s a repudiation and a tectonic shift in health care in this country.”

“There is fertile ground” for more such ballot votes, said Topher Spiro, vice president for health policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. “It is clear that public opinion is on the side of Medicaid expansion and the election results merely confirm that.”

“This will build momentum for expansion in other states,” he added.

The election results also could have consequences on efforts by states to implement work requirements for Medicaid enrollees.

New Hampshire and Michigan — which expanded the program but recently won federal approval to add controversial work requirements — could revisit that additional mandate as a result of Democrats winning control over both houses of the legislature in New Hampshire and the governor’s office in Michigan.

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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