Health Reform WK-EDGE Maine voters taking Medicaid expansion into their own hands
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Monday, November 6, 2017

Maine voters taking Medicaid expansion into their own hands

By Kathryn S. Beard, J.D.

On November 7, 2017, voters in Maine will determine whether the state should expand eligibility for its Medicaid program through a citizen’s initiative referendum question. As it appears on the ballot, Question 2 asks, "Do you want Maine to expand Medicaid to provide healthcare coverage for qualified adults under age 65 with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, which in 2017 means $16,643 for a single person and $22,412 for a family of two?" The measure is opposed by Governor Paul LePage (R), who has five times vetoed similar legislation allowing expansion as designed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148).

Maine expansion. Section 2001 of the ACA expanded Medicaid eligibility to nonelderly adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012), the Supreme Court held that states could not be required to expand Medicaid eligibility, essentially allowing states to choose whether to expand their programs. The Maine legislature has repeatedly attempted to pass legislation to expand MaineCare eligibility, but each time has been thwarted by LePage (see Maine’s Governor vetoes Medicaid expansion bill for third time, misses out on jobs and money, April 16, 2014; Maine Senate votes again to expand Medicaid; faces certain veto, April 20, 2016).

Question 2. According to the official Citizen’s Guide to the upcoming election, the citizen-initiated legislation would take effect 30 days after LePage proclaims the official results of the election in favor of expansion. The state Office of Fiscal and Program Review noted that, per the ACA, 90 percent of the total cost would be borne by the federal government, and although overall costs are expected to increase under the initiative, some of the expenditures would be mitigated by savings that some programs would achieve. No public comments were filed in opposition to Question 2.

Legislation: StateLegislationNews AccessNews AgencyNews MedicaidExpansionNews

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