Thursday, November 1, 2018

It’s Not Just Pre-Existing Conditions. Voters Weigh Many Health Issues on State Ballots

Voters Weigh Many Health Issues

It’s Not Just Pre-Existing Conditions. Voters Weigh Many Health Issues on State Ballots
Health care has been a dominant issue on the campaign trail this fall, with voters particularly worried about continuing insurance protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

But on polling day, they're going to decide a variety of other important health care questions for his or her states through ballot initiatives.

Among the foremost significant are referendums that might expand Medicaid in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah.

If voters altogether three states approve, an estimated 340,000 additional low-income adults would be eligible for free of charge health coverage through the govt program, because the health law allows, starting next year.

But the ballot questions also cover a good range of other issues: whether to ease penalties for low-level drug offenders in Ohio; consider a ban on vaping in indoor workspaces in Florida; and whether to get rid of abortion protections from state constitutions in Alabama and West Virginia.

Medicaid expansion

In addition to the ballot questions in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah, the result of tight governor’s races in seven states that have thus far resisted expanding Medicaid could change the equation there.

In Maine, a win for the Democrat, Janet Mills, would presumably end in a minimum of 70,000 low-income adults quickly becoming eligible for Medicaid.

Voters within the state had approved an expansion of the program last year, but the outgoing governor, Paul LePage, a Republican, has blocked it.

Other states that would see Medicaid expand if Democrats win include Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

In all, election results could extend Medicaid coverage to 2.7 million additional Americans, including quite 1,000,000 in Florida alone.

On the opposite hand, a ballot question in Montana could abruptly end expanded Medicaid there.

Voters will decide whether to continue providing it to low-income childless adults beyond this year by considering a measure that might double the cigarette tax to buy the state’s share of the value.

The industry has poured quite $17 million into fighting the measure.

Depending on what percentage states join Virginia, where the legislature voted in May to expand Medicaid and an estimated 400,000 people will become eligible Jan. 1, the program could see its biggest enrollment growth since 2014 when the Affordable Care Act first allowed Medicaid expansion.


Two states, Alabama and West Virginia will ask voters whether to amend their state constitutions to get rid of protections for the proper to abortion or require the funding of abortions.

The questions come amid speculation that the newly reconfigured Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade, allowing each state to make a decision whether to permit abortion.

In the more liberal state of Oregon, voters will decide whether to ban public spending on abortion except when medically necessary or required by federal law.

If the initiative is approved, Medicaid would not cover abortions for low-income women; abortion may additionally not be a covered benefit for state employees.

Soda Taxes

In Oregon and Washington State, big beverage companies are pushing the ballot initiatives that might prevent localities from imposing taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks also as a good range of groceries.

Backed in large part by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, the measures are a replacement front within the soda industry’s war on the taxes that health advocates see as an efficient thanks to decreasing the consumption of sugary beverages — products that are linked to obesity and a variety of diet-related illnesses.

Opioids and Illegal Drugs

Ohio, a state hard hit by overdose deaths is asking voters whether drug possession cases should be prosecuted only as misdemeanors.

The savings from a reduced inmate population would be used for drug rehabilitation and victims’ aid programs.

The Democratic candidate for governor, Richard Cordray, says the measure, which might amend the state’s constitution, is required not least because The legislature has did not address the opioid crisis in a meaningful way.

But opponents, among them the judge of the Ohio Supreme Court, some Democrats and therefore the Republican candidate for governor, Mike DeWine, is concerned about unintended consequences, including the consequences on the state’s drug courts, which lean heavily on the threat of incarceration to compel treatment and drug-free behavior.

The initiative has received considerable out-of-state support, including $1 million each from foundations travels by George Soros, the billionaire investor and Democratic donor, and Mark Zuckerberg, the founding father of Facebook.

Tobacco and E-Cigarettes

Tobacco companies and their products still be a target.

South Dakota voters are being asked to approve substantial tax increases on cigarettes and wholesale tobacco goods, with some of the revenue to fund technical training schools for top school graduates.

The state, which last raised cigarette taxes in 2006, has among rock bottom such taxes within the country.

Florida voters will consider a bundled amendment that seems to be confounding many: Tucked into an initiative that might ban offshore drilling for oil and gas in state waters may be a proposal that might extend a longstanding smoking ban in indoor workplaces to e-cigarettes and vapes.

The passage is uncertain, not only because many citizens don't understand why both issues should be linked — proponents say they're both environmental topics — but because, pragmatically speaking, Amendment 9 is near rock bottom of an extended list of races and questions on the state ballot.

Dialysis Costs

It may not be a single-payer, but it’s a step toward regulating health care prices.

California voters will have the chance to weigh in on a proposition limiting what proportion dialysis companies can charge private insurers to treat patients with serious renal disorder.

State Democrats and labor unions, notably the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, are backing the proposition aimed toward the 2 largest dialysis chains, DaVita and Fresenius.

They claim the businesses are overcharging for his or her care.

Both the California Medical Association and therefore the California Hospital Association, also as business groups et al. , are opposed, and quite $100 million has been spent trying to defeat the measure.

They say the proposition could hurt patients’ ability to urge lifesaving treatment.

Patient Safety

Massachusetts voters will decide whether hospital nurses should be limited to a group number of patients, they will look after directly.

The number would range from one to 6, counting on the sort of medical unit or care needed.

Hospital groups have strenuously fought the proposal, saying that the value of hiring enough nurses to satisfy the need would be on the brink of $900 million, with the burden falling heavily on community hospitals.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, the union and professional group that drafted the question, argues that such limits protect patients and ultimately economize by reducing hospital stays.

Medical Marijuana

Two generally conservative states, Utah and Missouri, will consider proposals to legalize cannabis products for medicinal use.

The Missouri ballot question focuses on potentially lucrative tax income, with voters being asked to settle on among three tax-and-spend proposals, with recipients including biomedical research, veterans’ health care, infancy education, and drug treatment.

The Utah question concentrates on the mechanics of prescribing and possession: If the referendum is approved, for instance, then patients with medical cards would be
allowed to get older to 6 plants, by Jan. 1, 2021.

Other states are looking beyond medical use. Voters in Michigan and North Dakota face measures that might legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older.

Sales Tax Exemptions

Nevada is poised to become the 10th state to supply nuisance tax exemptions specifically for feminine hygiene products if voters approve a ballot initiative there.

Opponents of eliminating the so-called pink tax say that it could cost the state from $72 million to $104 million annually.

The state’s voters also are being asked to approve nuisance tax exemptions for medical equipment like oxygen tanks and ventilators.

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