Voters in 37 states will have more than candidates to choose in Tuesday’s election. There are more than 150 statewide measures on ballots this midterm election, and several involve health-related issues such as Medicaid expansion, marijuana, abortion, grocery taxes and charges related to drug use and possession.
Alabama and West Virginia voted measures into their constitutions that restrict abortion.
Abortion rights supporters worry that the amendment could be used to criminalize some forms of in-vitro fertilization and contraception. There are also concerns that should the US Supreme Court end Roe v. Wade, this amendment would be a “trigger ban,” meaning abortion would be outlawed in some states.
This “personhood” ballot measure doesn’t have exemptions like in other states’ laws that carve out the right to an abortion in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother.
Oregon’s Measure 106 would end state funding for abortions. Women who are public employees or who are on Medicaid would no longer get coverage for the procedure. There are exceptions for rape, incest, and a pregnancy that is a threat to the woman’s health.
West Virginia’s Amendment 1 narrowly passed. Also known as the No Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment, it explicitly states that its Constitution has nothing in it that “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” Unlike Alabama’s law, it has an exception for rape, incest, fetal anomaly or threats to the woman’s life. It also restricts Medicaid funding for abortions.
Voters in four states will have to decide how they feel about marijuana. In Michigan and North Dakota, they will consider whether recreational use should be legal for adults over 21. North Dakota’s amendment would also automatically expunge the record of someone who had a conviction related to weed.
Other states’ weed-related initiatives focused on medical marijuana; prior to the election, 31 states and the District of Columbia had laws that legalize or decriminalize it.
Missouri had three medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot this year. Voters gave a definite yes to Amendment 2, which legalizes medical marijuana, taxes it at 4% and guarantees that the money will be spent on health care services for veterans. Amendment 3 and Proposition C, which would also have legalized medical use but would have spent the tax revenue differently, failed.
Missouri has three medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot this year. Amendment 2 would legalize medical marijuana, tax it at 4% and guarantee that the money would be spent on health care services for veterans. Amendment 3 also would legalize it for medical reasons and tax it at 15%, and the money would have to be spent to create a Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute, a state-run institution that would look for cures for disease. The money that the drugs would earn would go back to the state.
Proposition C, a separate ballot question, would also legalize medical marijuana and tax it at 2%, and the money would have to go toward veterans, drug treatment, education and law enforcement. If voters say yes to all three, the one that gets the “largest affirmative vote shall prevail.”
Montana, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah will consider expanding Medicaid. Montana’s I-185 would also raise taxes on tobacco products to help fund the expansion and other health care programs.
Voters in Utah, Idaho and Nebraska, mostly Republican-dominated states, voted yes to expand Medicaid eligibility to people under 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level. In Utah, that expansion is going to be funded in part by a sales tax increase.
Idaho’s Proposition 2 would expand Medicaid eligibility to people under 65 whose income is 138% of the federal poverty level, as would Nebraska’s Initiative 427 and Utah’s Proposition 3. In Utah, that expansion would be funded in part by a sales tax increase.
There may be additional election-related changes with Medicaid. If Democrats win in Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Florida, there’s a possibility those states could expand Medicaid as well. In Florida alone, a million people would get health care coverage if Medicare is expanded in that state. Potentially, 2.7 million additional Americans could get coverage if elections go Democrats way in those states.
In Montana, the ballot question could end the Medicaid expansion there. The Tobacco industry has spent millions in the state to fight the initiative since it would double the cigarette task to pay for the state’s portion of Medicaid expansion.
Other health care initiatives were on the ballot in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.
Voters gave a resounding yes to California’s Proposition 4, which will authorize $1.5 billion in bonds for children’s hospitals. It was a closer vote, but they also said yes to Proposition 11, which requires people who work on ambulances to stay on call during breaks and require employers to give EMTs and paramedics additional training and some paid mental health services.
Proposition 11 would require people who work on ambulances to stay on call during breaks and require employers to give EMTs and paramedics additional training and some paid mental health services.
It appears that voters rejected Question 1 in Massachusetts that would have limited the number of patients assigned to registered nurses working in a hospital. The state has restrictions for intensive care units but not for any other part of the hospital.
Question 1 in Massachusetts would limit the number of patients assigned to registered nurses working in a hospital. The state has such restrictions for intensive care units but not for any other part of the hospital.
Voters seem to have said yes to Nevada’s Question 4, which requires the state legislature to remove taxes on durable medical equipment, oxygen equipment and mobility devices that are prescribed by a licensed provider. And early results are in favor of Nevada’s Question 2 that removes sales tax from feminine hygiene products.
Other health matters
In Massachusetts, preliminary voting results with Question 3 seem to suggest voters said yes to keeping a law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places like restaurants, stores, hotels and hospitals. There’s no federal law that provides such protections for people who identify as transgender.
Some of the other ballot initiatives involved tax collection.
Voters rejected South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 25 that would have increased taxes on tobacco products. Voters said yes to Virginia’s Question 2 that removes a restriction on tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran.
Get CNN Health's weekly newsletter
Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.
Ohio voters soundly rejected Issue 1, which would have eliminated the option for a felony charge for the possession or use of drugs, would require the state to spend on programs that would include helping people get into drug treatment and rehabilitation programs, would create sentencing programs that involve drug rehab, and would prohibit courts from sending a person to prison for non-criminal probation violations.
Correction: A previous version of this story should have said Oregon’s Measure 103 would ban taxes on groceries.