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National MS Society Endorses Four Medicaid Expansion Ballot Initiatives

July 25, 2018

Residents in four states are expected to vote on Medicaid expansion this midterm election in November. The ballot initiatives in Utah and Idaho have been certified, while Nebraska and Montana have submitted the requisite signatures and are awaiting certification. Each of the ballot initiatives would expand Medicaid eligibility for low-income Americans, which could provide access to healthcare for upwards of 400,000 individuals. 

Medicaid provides health coverage to about 10 million non-elderly individuals with disabilities. It offers prescription drug coverage and standard medical benefits, such as physician and hospital care; home and community-based services that allow people with MS to remain independent and avoid institutionalization; and provides other forms of long-term services and support. With passage of the Affordable Care Act and the subsequent Supreme Court decision in 2012, states have the option to expand their Medicaid programs to individuals who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level ($28,179 for a family of three).

Medicaid expansion has been a priority of the National MS Society for years and MS activists have been at the forefront in many of the 34 states and District of Columbia that have passed Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion has helped more than 15 million Americans gain access to quality, affordable health coverage. We are proud to support these ballot initiatives and urge constituents in these states to make their voices heard on the ballot this November by voting in favor of them.

State-Specific Background
  • In May, 2018, Utah’s lieutenant governor certified Utah Proposition 3 for the ballot, which would require the state to provide Medicaid coverage for those under 65 years old with incomes equal to or below 138% of the federal poverty level. This will be financed by a sales tax increase of .15%.
  • In July, 2018, Idaho’s Secretary of State announced that the proposed measure would be included on the November ballot. The measure would expand Medicaid eligibility to those under 65, whose income is 133% of the federal poverty level or below, and are not eligible for other state insurance coverage.
  • Nebraska state law required 85,000 signatures by July 6th to add the Medicaid expansion initiative to the ballot. Nebraskans responded with 133,000 signatures, and the office of the Secretary of State has 40 days to certify them. The expansion initiative would require the state to provide Medicaid coverage for individuals under 65 with incomes equal or below 138% of the federal poverty level.
  • Montana is currently participating in Medicaid expansion, but it is set to expire in 2019 unless it is renewed by the state legislature. The ballot measure would extend the program past 2019, funded by a $2 increase in the cigarette tax. More than 40,000 signatures were turned in supporting Initiative 185 and certification is expected before the end of July.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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