Healthcare measures on the ballot to watch for today

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Healthcare measures on the ballot to watch for today

Voters are set to weigh in on a host of healthcare ballot measures across the country today, from abortion access and marijuana legalization to the regulation of dialysis clinics in California.

In five states, voters will have the chance to decide on proposals that will either codify or restrict abortion rights, which have been at the forefront of many Democratic candidates’ platforms going into the midterm elections, betting on it driving voters to the polls in Democrats favor following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June.

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Voters in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota will consider marijuana-related ballot measures, which if passed will have them join a number of states that have made moves toward legalizing the drug in recent years.

Read on for more on those and other important measures.

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Abortion

Voters in California, Michigan, Vermont, Kentucky, and Montana will weigh in on abortion rights via ballot initiatives.

In Michigan, voters will consider Proposal 3, which would codify abortion rights in the state constitution. The debate over the proposal has heated up in recent weeks, with opponents claiming the measure is too extreme and would go as far as to allow minors to receive abortions or undergo gender transition surgery without parental consent. It is the only abortion initiative this election cycle that was placed on the ballot through a signature campaign.

California will decide on Proposition 1, which would amend the state’s constitution to enshrine the right to “reproductive freedom,” which is defined as including the right to have an abortion and the right to choose or refuse contraceptives.

Vermont will also weigh a similar proposal that would add a state constitutional amendment to codify a right to abortion. Though Vermont’s proposed amendment does not explicitly say abortion, it does include language enshrining the right to personal reproductive liberty.

If Michigan, California, or Vermont pass their ballot initiatives, they would become the first states to have a constitutional provision that enshrines the right to an abortion.

Kentucky will vote on GOP-led Amendment 2, which aims to amend the state constitution to specify that it does not “secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” If it fails, it could clear the way for abortions to resume in the state. A lower state court endorsed an interpretation back in July that the state’s constitutional language on privacy could extend to abortion rights, which without the amendment could mean the state Supreme Court may rule on the issue to protect abortion rights.

Montana will consider Legislative Referendum 131, an initiative that would require healthcare providers to perform lifesaving care on infants “born alive,” which could include after an abortion.

Marijuana

Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota will decide whether to legalize marijuana for adults ages 21 and older.

Amendment 3 in Missouri asks voters whether to amend the state constitution to allow people 21 years and older to possess, purchase, consume, and cultivate marijuana. It would automatically expunge some people’s criminal records with nonviolent marijuana-related offenses.

Maryland’s initiative aims to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older beginning in July 2023 and would require the state legislature to enact laws surrounding the use, distribution, possession, regulation, and taxation of recreational marijuana in the state.

Marijuana is already legal for recreational use in 19 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam. Thirty-seven states also have laws on the books regulating marijuana for medical use, according to NORML.

Psychedelic mushrooms

Colorado will decide on Proposition 122, the Natural Medicine Health Act, which would decriminalize the possession and use of certain plants and fungi, including psilocybin, psilocin, and ibogaine, which naturally have hallucinogenic effects when consumed.

The proposition does not provide for retail sales of such substances but would put the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies in charge of developing a therapeutic psychedelics program, in which psilocybin and psilocin could be administered to people at licensed healing centers, if it passes.

Dental insurance

Massachusetts will weigh the Medical Loss Ratios for Dental Insurance Plans Initiative, which would impose Obamacare-style regulation on dental insurance, requiring insurers to put a certain percentage of the premiums they collect toward dental care. It would force insurers to spend at least 83% of premiums on dental services versus administrative or other overhead costs or refund the excess to the beneficiary.

Health insurers, in contrast, are already required to spend at least 80% of the money they take in from premiums toward healthcare costs under the Affordable Care Act. There is no federal minimum threshold in place for dental insurers.

Dialysis clinics

Voters in California will decide on Proposition 29, which would require the state’s roughly 650 dialysis clinics to have a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant on-site during treatment, in addition to dialysis technicians. Clinics would also have to report dialysis-related infection information and disclose to patients a list of the people who own at least 5% of the clinic to the state or face penalties.

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Medical debt collection

Arizona’s Proposition 209, the Predatory Debt Collection Protection Act, aims to limit how debt collectors can go after residents for unpaid medical bills. It would reduce the maximum interest rates creditors can charge on outstanding medical bills to 3%, down from the current threshold of 10%. It also would raise the value of assets protected from debt collection, which proponents argue would protect people from facing bankruptcy or poverty due to late medical bills.

Other health proposals before voters across the country include alcohol license regulation in Massachusetts, Medicaid expansion in South Dakota, and flavored tobacco product sales in California.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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