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

In New York, the Art of a Deal Gone Bitterly Bad

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

“If you gain fame, power, or wealth,” the philosopher Philip Slater once noted, “you won’t have any trouble finding lovers, but they will be people who love fame, power, or wealth.” Tell me about it, David Mugrabi might be thinking right about now. The billionaire art dealer and his wife Libbie Mugrabi are currently contesting a bitter divorce that has the New York couple in and out of the courts and the headlines. In July, the two tussled in a tug-of-war over a $500,000 20-inch-tall Andy Warhol sculpture. Libbie claims the incident had her fearing for her life, and a friend has testified that David angrily called her and Libbie “low-lifes” and “gold-diggers.” The latest installment: Last Tuesday, lawyers argued over how much Libbie should get for a vacation she and their two kids will be taking this Thanksgiving. Libbie’s lawyer asked for an amount commensurate with the couple’s “$3.5-million-a-year lifestyle.” The judge okayed $4,000, then added: “No one’s going to starve in this family.”

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A Pattern of Poverty

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