Hard work pays off as health care expansion referendum heads to ballot

Hard work pays off as health care expansion referendum heads to ballot

Members of the Mainers for Health Care coalition are celebrating the announcement that Maine’s Secretary of State has officially certified more than enough signatures to place a Citizen Initiative to expand health care coverage through Medicaid on the November, 2017 ballot. Medicaid expansion has been passed in the legislature but vetoed by Governor LePage five times in recent years.

“This news made my day. I’m glad I was able to help make this happen for myself and for thousands of others in desperate need of health care,” said Kathy Phelps of Winslow, who helped to collect signatures for the initiative. “I’ve worked my whole life since I was 14 years old.  I don’t expect something for nothing. For 30 years, I have earned a modest living as a self-employed hair dresser. My needs are simple so that I can live within my means. But I can’t afford the high cost of health insurance or health care on my own. At 59 years old, I still have 6 years to go before I qualify for Medicare. I know the voters in Maine want more health care, not less and will vote for this ballot initiative in November.”

The campaign, which has the support of a broad coalition of health care advocates, medical professionals and hospitals submitted 70,302 signatures to the office of the Secretary of State on January 26th. 66,434 were found to be valid, well more than the 61,123 required to make the ballot.

The signatures were gathered by hundreds of volunteers, who fanned out to polling places across the state on Election Day last year.

“I gathered signatures from over 150 people in my small town of Vienna, people who are concerned about the lack of access to health care for a family member, neighbor or friend,” said Daniel K. Onion, MD. “I’m pleased this effort is moving forward for the thousands of Maine people who are in need of affordable health coverage.”

Follow the Mainers for Health Care Facebook page for updates on the campaign.

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