These health care initiatives went on the state ballot

With many states still counting votes, control of Congress remains undecided. But many measures related to health care have been passed in the United States, including proposals related to abortion rights, medical debt, Medicaid expansion, and more.

Intermediate Exam Results 2022 (So Far)

Abortion rights

California, Michigan and Vermont voted Tuesday to codify abortion rights in their state constitutions.

In Michigan, voters approved an amendment that would bar the state from enforcing the 1931 abortion ban. Meanwhile, in California, voters approved a constitutional amendment that says a person has a “fundamental right to choose to have an abortion,” and in Vermont, voters approved an amendment that which states that “the individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the freedom and dignity of determining one’s own life path and should not be denied or impaired unless justified by an overriding state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.’

Meanwhile, Kentucky voters rejected a proposed amendment that said “in order to protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to provide or protect the right to abortion or to require the funding of abortion.”

According to Elizabeth Smith, director of state policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rightsthe rejection of Kentucky’s amendment sends a “powerful and positive statement” that the public believes “this health care service should remain legal and affordable.”

And in Montana, voters are voting on a state law that gives babies “born alive” at any stage of pregnancy “legal personhood.” Any health care provider found guilty of “failing to take medically appropriate and reasonable action to preserve the life of a live born infant” will face a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison.

As of this morning, the Montana election was too close to call, with 52.6% voting against and 47.4% voting with 80% of the vote.

Medical debt

In Arizona, voters approved Proposition 209, which would lower the maximum interest that lenders can charge on medical debt from 10% to 3%.

The proposal would also increase the number of assets that are exempt from debt collection and allow courts to reduce how much of a person’s income can be garnished to pay medical debt.

Medicaid expansion

In South Dakota, voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure expanding Medicaid to people ages 18 to 65 with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty line. The move would expand Medicaid benefits to more than 40,000 low-income adults.

“South Dakotans know their families and neighbors deserve health care without going into debt or avoiding the checkups, procedures and medications they need,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of Justice Project. “Citizens took matters into their own hands to push Medicaid expansion through the vote — showing us once again that if politicians don’t want to do their job, their constituents will step up and do it for them.”

Now, only 11 states have yet to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Health care as a human right

In Oregon, voters are voting on a measure that would declare health care a human right. According to the measure, “It is the state’s duty to ensure that every Oregonian has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.”

As of this morning, the vote was too close to call.

If passed, the measure would make Oregon the first state in the country to establish a constitutional right to health care. However, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting, the ballot measure does not say what the state must do to fulfill the constitutional obligation to provide health care, nor does it define what access to affordable health care means. If passed, the state legislature would have to define what access to health care for everyone looks like and how it’s paid for, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

Joseph Antos, senior associate at American Enterprise Institutesaid he believes Oregon’s ballot measure is “virtue signaling.”

“Mostly what I see is a problem here if they pass this,” he said, adding that because Oregon is a very rural state, someone may have to travel hours to get to a hospital that can dealt with his health problem, which could be argued as a violation of human rights.

Flavored tobacco

In California, voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure that would uphold a 2020 law banning the sale of fruit-flavored candy and tobacco products.

“In California’s battle against Big Tobacco, voters overwhelmingly decided to protect children from being lured into a lifetime of nicotine addiction,” said Lindsey Freitas, regional director of advocacy for Campaign for children without tobacco.

Recreational marijuana

Two states — Missouri and Maryland — voted on measures to legalize recreational marijuana on Tuesday.

In Missouri, voters approved a measure that would lift prohibitions on the purchase, possession and sale of recreational marijuana for all adults over the age of 21. The measure would also allow people convicted of non-violent marijuana offenses to petition for release from prison or parole and have their records expunged.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, voters approved a ballot measure allowing adults 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana and grow two plants away from the public starting July 1, 2023.

Dialysis clinic staff

In California, voters rejected a measure that would have created a statewide mandate to increase medical staffing at dialysis centers.

The proposal would require dialysis clinics to have a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant present while patients receive care. Clinics also would have been required to disclose whether a doctor had an ownership interest in the facility and to report patient infection data. (Gonzalez, Axios, 11/9; reed, Axios, 11/8; Overmole, STATISTICS, 11/9; Firth/Frieden, MedPage today, 11/7; Choi, The hill, 11/9; Wiley, Los Angeles Times, 11/8; jackets, Forbes, 11/9; Evans, Los Angeles Times, 11/8; Templeton, OPB, 11/9; Elwood, The Washington Post11/8)

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