Maine embraces Obamacare, votes to expand Medicaid to 70,000 low-income people

Addy Baird

Addy Baird Reporter, Think Progress

Tens of thousands of low-income people previously locked out of affordable coverage got good news last Tuesday.

Voters in Maine elected to expand the Medicaid program, which offers health insurance to low-income people. Before this ballot measure’s success, the state’s legislature repeatedly tried to expand Medicaid, but Gov. Paul LePage (R) issued five different vetoes blocking the legislation.

The Medicaid expansion is a major provision of the Affordable Care Act, but after it was ruled optional by the Supreme Court, many GOP-controlled states have refused to expand the program. Maine, one of 19 states that has resisted expansion, is the first to turn the question over to voters with a ballot measure.

The New York Times reports that other states that held out are closely watching the initiative. In Utah and Idaho, newly formed committees are working to get the question of Medicaid expansion on the ballot next year.

Currently, 268,000 people in Maine are covered by Medicaid, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, while 70,000 people fall into a coverage gap between Medicaid and the ACA. Most of them are now eligible for coverage following the winning yes vote for expansion.

The good news for health care access doesn’t stop in Maine. In Virginia, where the GOP-controlled House has thwarted Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s efforts to expand the program, Republicans are bracing to lose more than 10 seats, a Virginia GOP delegate told The New York Times.

Democrat Ralph Northam won the election to replace McAuliffe Tuesday. If Democrats take control of the House of Delegates, the governor could expand the program with the support of the legislature in Virginia as well. The state senate elections aren’t until 2019, but the path to victory for Democrats in that chamber is considered much easier, as Republicans have just a two-seat majority there. 

About 400,000 people would receive access to health insurance if Virginia expanded Medicaid.

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work