Three Republican states considering Medicaid expansion as ballot decision

Share this content:

Organizers in Utah this week submitted enough signatures to get a Medicaid expansion question on the state's November ballot.

Medicaid expansion would cover about 150,000 low-income people in Utah. It is one of 18 mostly Republican-led states that refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to Vox.

Two-thirds of Utah residents polled by The Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah said they supported the initiative — and they're not alone in wanting to expand coverage.

Maine was the first state to approve an expansion of Medicaid through a ballot initiative, and organizers are working on ballot initiatives in Idaho and Nebraska as well.

”People want more healthcare — not less,” Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of the Fairness Project, said this week. “They are done with politicians who are not addressing their top concerns, and they are taking action to do something about it.”

The push for expansion comes even as the Trump administration is pushing work-for-coverage plans. Virginia has spent much of its legislative session tussling over expansion, with another House vote in favor of it Tuesday — albeit with language tightening a requirement for able-bodied Medicaid recipients to get jobs or job training.

In that state, some Republican legislators have broken rank to support the proposed expansion. But in other, traditionally GOP-leaning states, it's the voters themselves who are clamoring for change.

In Idaho, organizers have an April 30 deadline to submit about 56,000 signatures. In Nebraska, the deadline for submitting signatures for a ballot initiative is July 6.

Organizers spearheading drives in both states said they expect to have enough signatures to be in the voting booth come November.