Medicaid Expansion Has Passed Every Time It’s Been on the Ballot

If the GOP actually cared about voters, they would support it, too.

It’s never a good idea to put too much stock in issue polls. As we’ve seen time and time again, the wording of the question often determines the outcome. But when it comes to health care—and especially Medicaid expansion—we don’t need polls, because even voters in red states are making it clear that they are not aligned with Republicans.

On Tuesday, Missouri became the seventh state to expand Medicaid since Donald Trump was inaugurated. All but one of those states (Virginia) did so by referendum at the ballot box. You can now add Missouri to the group of orange states on this map.

The 53 percent of Missourians who voted to expand Medicaid probably did so for a variety of reasons, like the fact that an additional 230,000 people will gain insurance coverage, or the fact that a refusal to expand the program has contributed to the closing of 10 rural hospitals in that state since 2014. There’s also this concern:

“Quite frankly, Missourians are sick and tired of not getting their fair share. They pay their taxes, they’ve seen now 37 other states use that money to expand access to health care. Meanwhile, our economy’s clearly ailing here,” Jack Cardetti, the campaign’s spokesperson, said last week.

As Sarah Kliff explains, the group that is behind the strategy of putting Medicaid expansion on the ballot is the Fairness Project. So far, they’ve had a massive impact, expanding the program to cover an additional one million low-income Americans. Their next target is Florida, which, if passed, would add coverage for an additional 800,000. Republican governors and legislators have fought these gains every step of the way. But Medicaid expansion has passed whenever it has been put on the ballot.

The lesson here is that, even as Trump and Republicans ask the Supreme Court to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act, their own constituents in red states are telling them that they support a critical element of what that legislation accomplished. A party that actually cared about what American voters want would be paying attention.

Donate Now to the Washington Monthly and your gift will be doubled

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.