Medicaid will be extended to potentially thousands of residents in Utah, Nebraska, and Idaho after the proposal met with enormous success during Tuesday’s elections.
The progressive initiative received positive response in the trio of normally Republican states and could open opportunities and financial assistance for medical expenses for over 320,000 low-income citizens, the NBC News speculates.
A provision of the Affordable Care Act, the approved measure will broaden state and federal health insurance plans, specifically for those residents who make less than 133 percent of the poverty line (about $16,000 for an individual or $33,000 for a family of four).
Jonathan Schleifer, director of the non-profit organization, the Fairness Project, said, “This election proves that politicians who fought to repeal the Affordable Care Act got it wrong. Expanding access to health care isn’t a blue state value or a red state value; it’s an American value.”
In Nebraska, the proposal passed by a small margin of votes, with 53 in favor and 47 against. Similarly, Utah was somewhat reluctant to adopt its "Proposition 2" and received 53 percent in favor and 46 against. However, Idaho showed clearer voter support, winning just over 60 percent of the vote.
Despite preliminary reservations from state officials over budgetary constraints, preparations for the Medicaid expansion will proceed. The initiative opens a door of possibilities for Utah’s 150,000 low-income individuals, some 90,000 uninsured Nebraskans, and another 62,000 Idahoans.
According to the Harvard health economist, Benjamin Sommers, expansions to state Medicare have only shown positive results in states like Main and Montana where the initiative has been incorporated.
“In terms of what happens to patients, we have 40-plus studies looking at this over the past decade. It makes a major difference in patients’ ability to access health care, to pay their bills, and in many studies, we see improved health outcomes too,” Sommers said, adding that in some cases where patients faced serious diseases, Medicaid saved their lives.
Some 129,000 low-income families have enrolled in the Medicaid expansion in Montana since it was approved 2015.