Maine and Virginia Votes on Nov. 7 Could Impact Health Care

Maine voters will have a chance to vote on Nov. 7, 2017, whether to expand Medicaid coverage to an estimated 70,000 Mainers under the age of 65 with incomes below or equal to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. This is exactly the Medicaid expansion provision included in the Affordable Care Act.

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have expanded their Medicaid eligibility rules. Maine Gov. LePage has repeatedly vetoed expansion.

Initiative 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?

According to the citizen's guide, when fully implemented, the Medicaid expansion would require net annual general funds appropriations of $54,495,000. Federal costs would be around $525,000,000 annually, just over 90 percent of the total cost. 

In Virginia, the November ballot impact on health care is a little less direct, but is also being watched by political observers. All 100 House of Delegate seats are up for election. Republicans currently hold a 66-34 majority, but the state voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. If the Democrats pick up a number of seats the legislature could approve Medicaid expansion, bringing health care insurance to 400,000 low income Virginians. The Virginia governor's race and the House of Delegates races are seen as bellweathers for the U.S. House races in 2018.