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Three out of four conservative states approved measures, while the election of a Democratic governor in Maine seemingly ends the Republican effort to block last year’s successful referendum.
Three heavily Republican states—Idaho, Nebraska and Utah—voted Tuesday to expand Medicaid to nearly 300,000 residents.
While each state’s conservative legislature resisted Medicaid expansion, voters approved ballot measures extending health insurance to adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line.
Idaho’s initiative passed with 62 percent of the vote, Nebraska’s with 53 percent and Utah’s with 54 percent.
Another red state, Montana—whose temporary expansion of Medicaid is slated to end next summer—voted down renewal with 55 percent of voters saying no. A tobacco tax hike was attached to the measure to fund the program for 100,000 people and the industry spent a record $17 million to defeat the proposal.
In Maine, Democrat Janet Mills was elected to replace outgoing Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who had blocked Medicaid expansion by tying it up in court for a year after voters approved the policy via referendum. Mills on Wednesday said that following through on that referendum will be one of her priorities upon taking office.
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.