Voters in Maine Tuesday approved a referendum to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, bucking a Republican governor and staunch ally of President Donald Trump.
Maine becomes the 32nd state and first by referendum to expand Medicaid under the ACA . The vote means 70,000 Mainers become eligible for Medicaid coveragefor poor Americans. Republican Gov. Paul LePage five times vetoed legislation to expand Medicaid. Now there are just 18 states that are left to expand Medicaid after Maine’s decision.
With 90% of precincts reporting, Medicaid expansion was winning with almost 60% support from across the state, several news outlets reported.
The Maine vote is getting a lot of national attention following the failed effort by Trump and the Republican-led Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and roll back the Medicaid expansion.
Maine has already missed out on generous federal funding of the Medicaid expansion. From 2014 through 2016, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion population was funded 100% with federal dollars. Beginning this year, states gradually have to pick up some costs, but the federal government still picks up 90% or more of Medicaid expansion through 2020. It was a better deal than before the ACA, when Medicaid programs were funded via a much less generous split between state and federal tax dollars.
“Among the six states with lower enrollment today than in 2013, Maine posted the largest decline (18%) with 50,000, or 3.8% of Mainers, no longer on Medicaid,” PwC said in a new report released last month at Medicaid Health Plans of America annual meeting.
The decision by Maine voters could provide momentum to hold referenda in other states such as Idaho and Utah where groups are working to get Medicaid expansion questions on the 2018 general election ballot. And continued expansion among holdout states would be a boost to insurance companies in the Medicaid business such as Anthem, Aetna, Centene, Molina Healthcare and UnitedHealth Group.
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