Speaking of Medicaid expansion in red states, the Omaha World-Herald reports that the issue could make the ballot as a popular initiative in Nebraska this November:
A proposal to expand Medicaid to more low-income Nebraskans has cleared one hurdle to appearing on the November ballot.
Secretary of State John Gale said Friday that a petition to put the proposal before voters has more than met the requirement to collect valid signatures from more than 5 percent of registered voters in 38 counties.
With signatures from 79 of the state’s 93 counties reported, the petition drive has exceeded the 5 percent mark in 42 counties, he said.
To put the measure on the ballot, the petition also must have valid signatures from at least 84,269 registered voters.
It also must survive a legal challenge filed by a state lawmaker and former lawmaker.
Similar efforts have put the Medicaid expansion issue on the ballot in Idaho and Utah.
It’s a clever maneuver by enterprising citizens to get around Republican legislators who are too frightened of anti-Obamacare donors to accept billions of dollars in federal money to provide health insurance for their states’ poorest citizens.
The same approach was taken in Maine, which approved Medicaid expansion via a popular ballot initiative last year. However, Gov. Paul LePage, one of the most unpopular governors in the nation, has attempted to use procedural maneuvers to block its implementation in a sad, doomed, bitter attempt to overrule the will of the people and deny health insurance to poor people in the final year of his term.
Worth noting once again that the latecomer states to Medicaid expansion gave up three years of of 100 percent federal funding, leaving billions of dollars on the table for no reason. Thankfully in Arkansas, pragmatists won the day.
For all of the sound and fury from the refusnik states back in the debates of 2013, we’re seeing a pattern that is somewhat similar, if a bit slower, to the original Medicaid program. When Medicaid was enacted as a federal-state partnership in 1965, some states dragged their feet. When the funds first became available, half of states participated. That was up to 37 two years in. By the time the program had been running for four years, nearly all states had signed up. Alaksa held out until 1972 and Arizona until 1982.