Utah voters approve ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion for low-income adults

Utah voters approve ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion for low-income adults
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Utah voters on Tuesday approved a measure expanding Medicaid coverage to thousands of low-income adults, circumventing Republican lawmakers who have opposed the policy for years.

The measure raises the state sales tax to fund the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to those making 138 percent or less of the federal poverty level — about $17,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a family of four.

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The state will pay about 10 percent of the costs to expand eligibility, while the federal government picks up the other 90 percent.

Supporters of the initiative say it would expand Medicaid to about 150,000 individuals.

Expansion advocates landed the question on the ballot for Tuesday’s election after hitting a brick wall with Republican state lawmakers who argue it is too costly.

ObamaCare allowed states to expand Medicaid to adults who don’t qualify under the traditional requirements but are still low-income.

But most Republican-led states, including Utah, rejected it.

People in these states who didn’t get insurance through work fell into a gap where they made too little to qualify for ObamaCare subsidies to buy insurance on the exchanges but too much to be eligible for the traditional Medicaid program.

The traditional Medicaid population covers extremely low-income families, children, pregnant women and elderly or disabled people.

Voters in Idaho and Nebraska also voted to expand Medicaid to more low-income adults.

Voters in Montana were also deciding whether to raise taxes on tobacco products to fund a permanent expansion. If the measure fails, expanded eligibility ends next year.