Health concerns drive voters to back Medicaid, weed and trans rights

Updated 3:41 PM EST, Wed November 7, 2018
(CNN) —  

Voters in 37 states had more than candidates to choose Tuesday. There were more than 150 statewide measures on ballots this midterm election, and several involved health-related issues such as taxes on feminine hygiene products, Medicaid expansion, abortion access and legalizing the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. Based on the preliminary vote results, here’s what some voters went for and what they rejected.

Abortion

Alabama, Oregon and West Virginia have measures that are aimed at restricting abortion access. If passed, Alabama’s Amendment 2 will add language to the state Constitution to give a fetus the same rights as a human who has been born.

Alabama’s Amendment 2 adds language to the state Constitution to give a fetus the same rights as a human who has been born.

Abortion-rights supporters in Alabama 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 the state.

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 the danger to the life of the mother.

West Virginia’s Amendment 1, also known as the No Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment, would explicitly state that its Constitution has nothing in it that “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” It also has an exception for rape, incest, fetal anomaly or threats to the woman’s life. It would essentially restrict Medicaid funding for abortions.

Voters rejected Oregon’s Measure 106, which would have ended state funding for abortions.

Marijuana

Adult recreational users of weed will be able to use it legally in another state.

According to preliminary results, more than 54% of voters in Michigan said yes to the initiative that imposes a 10-ounce limit for Michigan residents, creates a state licensing system, will allow for retail sales subject to a 10% tax and changes several weed-related violations to civil infractions.

That makes 10 states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington – plus the District of Columbia that allow for recreational use.

In North Dakota, voters rejected an initiative that would have allowed for recreational use for adults over 21.

Other states’ weed-related initiatives focus on medical marijuana; 31 states and the District of Columbia have laws that legalize or decriminalize it.

In Utah, if voters say yes to Proposition 2, individuals with qualifying illnesses would get access to medical marijuana.

Health care

Montana voters appear to be rejecting Medicaid expansion, but they are still counting votes on this initiative. Montana’s I-185 would have also raised taxes on tobacco products to help fund the expansion and other health care programs. The tobacco industry has spent millions in the state to fight the initiative since it would have doubled the cigarette tax to pay for the state’s portion of Medicaid expansion.

Other health care initiatives are on the ballot in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.

California’s Proposition 4 would authorize $1.5 billion in bonds for children’s hospitals. Proposition 8 would require dialysis clinics to refund patients for revenue above 115% of the costs of direct patient care. Supporters of the initiative believe this would incentivize clinics to spend money on health care improvements rather than putting it toward their profits.

California voters rejected Proposition 8, which would have required dialysis clinics to refund patients for revenue above 115% of the costs of direct patient care.

Nevada’s Question 4 would require the state legislature to remove taxes on durable medical equipment, oxygen equipment and mobility devices that are prescribed by a licensed provider.

Other health matters

In Massachusetts, with Question 3, voters will decide whether they want to keep 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. Without them, supporters of the ballot question say, people who identify as transgender could be denied access to doctors’ offices, hospitals and other medical care.

Some of the other ballot initiatives involve tax collection. In Nevada, Question 2 would exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. Oregon’s Measure 103 would ban taxes on groceries. Washington state has a similar initiative that would ban local governments from collecting taxes on groceries. The initiatives are getting broad support from soda companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, Inc that see it as a way to fight the growing movement toward soda taxes.

Voters in Washington state said yes to an initiative that bans local governments from collecting taxes on groceries. Voters went against Oregon’s Measure 103 that would have banned taxes on groceries. The initiatives got broad support from soda companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo that see it as a way to fight the growing movement toward soda taxes.

South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 25 would increase taxes on tobacco products. Virginia’s Question 2 would remove a restriction on tax exemption for the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran. Maine’s Question 1 would create a payroll tax and non-wage income tax that would fund a home health care program.

Maine’s Question 1 would have created a payroll tax and non-wage income tax that would fund a home health care program, but preliminary results show that it failed.

In New Mexico, Bond Question A would provide $10.77 million in bonds for senior citizen facilities.

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Ohio will vote on Issue 1, which would eliminate 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.

Oklahoma voters will decide State Question 793, which would allow optometrists and opticians to practice in retail establishments.