Along with competitive races for governorships and congressional seats, voters in the 2022 midterm elections also had to decide on scores of state ballot initiatives related to health and wellbeing.
Overall, states had more than 130 initiatives on their ballots to decide the fate of a variety of significant and hotly debated issues, according to US News. Additionally, other ballot initiatives dealt with improving access to health care, limiting medical debt, banning flavored tobacco, tightening regulations on guns, and funding for affordable housing. These issues received less attention than efforts to legalize recreational marijuana and to uphold or restrict abortion rights.
South Dakota: Voters there approved Constitutional Amendment D, which will allow about 40,000 lower-income adults to qualify for Medicaid. The state decided to expand the public health insurance program together with 39 other states and the District of Columbia.
Oregon: As of Wednesday, it was too soon to predict whether Measure 111 would pass, making the state the first in the nation to declare in its constitution that access to affordable health care is a fundamental right for all citizens. With around half of the ballots cast by currently registered and active voters counted, votes against the proposal had a modest advantage.
If approved, the proposal asks the state to strike a balance between funding public schools and other important services while also making sure citizens have “access to cost-effective, clinically acceptable, and affordable health care.”
Arizona: Proposition 209, which capped yearly interest rates on medical debt at 3%, was decisively adopted by voters in the Grand Canyon State. The proposal also elevates the amount in a bank account that is protected from debt collection from $300 to $5,000 and the amount up to which certain assets, such as properties priced up to $400,000, are protected from debt collection. Additionally, it reduces the amount of wages that debt collectors can deduct from paychecks from 25% to 10%.
Other states that want to offer people some sort of relief from medical debt may use Proposition 209 as a model. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation review of earlier Census Bureau statistics, at least $195 billion in medical debt was owed by American adults, and one in ten persons had debts totaling more than $250.
Massachusetts: Question 2 on the state ballot was adopted by voters, making Massachusetts the first state in the country to mandate that dental insurance spend a minimum of 83% of premiums on patient care-related services starting in 2024.
The legislation is comparable to the Affordable Care Act’s 80/20 Rule, which mandates that subject health insurers spend at least 80% of premium revenue on costs associated with patient care and quality improvement.
Californians rejected Proposition 29, which would have tightened restrictions on renal dialysis facilities by mandating the presence of a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant while a patient is receiving treatment.
Additionally, clinics would have been prohibited from refusing to serve patients based on who is paying for their treatment and would have had to report information on dialysis-related infections to the California Department of Public Health. A ballot initiative to alter the way dialysis clinics operate has now lost three elections in a row in the state.