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State Ballots Next Battleground Against Obamacare

Image: State Ballots Next Battleground Against Obamacare Ohio Gov. John Kasich

By Courtney Coren   |   Monday, 20 May 2013 10:53 AM

Obamacare supporters in predominately Republican states are turning to ballot initiatives to force legislatures to accept billions in federal dollars to expand Medicaid, even in states where GOP governors support it.

Groups in Montana and Ohio, where governors are dealing with GOP-dominated legislatures that are still resistant to backing the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, have begun work on a ballot measure for the 2014 elections. Expansion supporters in Florida say it's something they are considering as well, Politico reports.

"I'm for it however we can get it," Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, told reporters after a pro-Medicaid expansion rally in May aimed at getting the GOP-dominated legislature to reconsider its rejection of federal money to help expand the state's program for low-income children and adults.

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However, such moves could backfire, since the repeal of Obamacare was the driving force behind the Republican gains in the House and Senate during the 2010 midterm elections.

"If Obamacare is on the ballot, people will line up to vote against it again," Montana Republican Party Executive Director Bowen Greenwood told Politico. "Historically, it's always a major turnout driver for us."

Obamacare opponents have also used ballot initiatives to mobilize voters against the law. A measure passed in Missouri, for example, blocks the governor from unilaterally creating a health insurance exchange, which has greatly hampered the implementation of the healthcare reform law there.

Obamacare supporters argue that while the healthcare law may be unpopular overall, the Medicaid expansion polls very well among voters, especially since the federal government has promised to pay for the first three years of the expansion and 90 percent of the Medicaid costs to the state in the following years.

According to Politico, supporters also believe that just trying to get the initiative on the ballot before voters could be the impetus to getting governors and legislators to agree on Medicaid expansion.

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