Recently, Utahns surpassed the threshold of signature collection to place Medicaid expansion on the November ballot. Idaho is following close behind. The residents of these rural states seek to extend access to coverage that has been denied by their state governments. If passed in November, health care coverage will be made available to those who earn less than $17,000 annually for a single family household.
Similar ballot initiatives are underway in Nebraska and Montana, where citizens of each state seek to re-authorize the Medicaid expansion set to expire in 2019.
These initiatives, carrying forward the momentum of Maine’s successful ballot initiative last fall and reinforced by Virginia’s expansion of Medicaid through the legislative process, demonstrate people see the value in providing health care coverage to their hard-working neighbors.
Residents of rural communities are already at a disadvantage in their ability to access health care coverage. The limited availability of health care providers and facilities, greater travel distances, and limited financial resources make access to care challenging. A failure to expand Medicaid creates another barrier to care for hard-working rural people and the rural hospitals and clinics that seek to provide them with care and services.
By offering signatures now and taking a vote to expand Medicaid this fall, voters are deciding on a more positive future of expanded health care coverage for their neighbors.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.