Voters in Maine head to the polls Tuesday to vote on whether to expand Medicaid health benefits for the poor under the Affordable Care Act, bucking a Republican governor and staunch ally of President Donald Trump.
Maine is one of 19 remaining states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the ACA after the Republican Gov. Paul LePage has five times vetoed legislation to expand such coverage to the state’s poor. An estimated 80,000 Mainers would become eligible for Medicaid if the ballot measure succeeds Tuesday .
“Maine voters have a chance to overcome LePage’s intransigence to join the states that have expanded the reach of health insurance to people who, although they are working hard, can’t afford it,” the Bangor Daily News said in an editorial endorsing Medicaid expansion for Maine.
Maine has already missed out on generous federal funding of the Medicaid expansion. From 2014 through 2016, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion population was funded 100% with federal dollars. Beginning this year, states gradually have to pick up some costs, but the federal government still picks up 90% or more of Medicaid expansion through 2020. It was a better deal than before the ACA, when Medicaid programs were funded via a much less generous split between state and federal tax dollars.
Maine has been one of few states in the country that has seen the number of state residents covered by Medicaid actually decline thanks to eligibility restrictions enacted by GOP Gov. LePage.
“Among the six states lower enrollment today than in 2013, Maine posted the largest decline (18%) with 50,000, or 3.8% of Mainers, no longer on Medicaid,” PwC said in a new report released last week at Medicaid Health Plans of America annual meeting.
Already, about 11 million Americans have gained coverage from Medicaid expansion in 31 states and the District of Columbia under the ACA. If Maine and the remaining 18 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid do so, another 2.5 million Americans would gain health coverage.