Maine residents voted decisively to expand access to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, a key test of the ACA’s popularity after a failed push to repeal it by Republicans in Washington.
Support for the ballot measure was leading 59%-41% with 66% of precincts reporting, and the Associated Press declared it had been approved. This makes Maine the 32nd state to embrace the expansion, a central pillar of the 2010 health-care law, and the first time a state has done so through a popular referendum. The outcome could hint at the salience of health-care issues in the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections.
Supporters of the measure cheered its passage, which will extend Medicaid health benefits to all low-income adults in the state. Medicaid in Maine and other non-expansion states in many cases doesn’t cover working-age residents without children.
Maine’s Republican governor, Paul LePage, has vetoed five attempts by the state’s Legislature to expand the program and led opposition to the ballot initiative, arguing that it would deplete state coffers, since the state would have to provide about 10% of the money for the expansion.
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