AUGUSTA, MAINE – With an overwhelming vote Tuesday, Maine became the first state to successfully use a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid, delivering powerful momentum to similar efforts in other states across the country.

“The victory today in Maine was just the beginning. It will fuel a movement in states throughout the country to bring health care to millions of people,” said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of The Fairness Project, a national nonprofit that supported the ballot campaign. “Voters are tired of watching elected officials ignore or even work against their concerns, as Congress and President Trump keep trying to do on health care. So they are taking matters into their own hands.”

Campaigns to pass similar ballot initiatives in Alaska, Utah and Idaho are already off the ground and grassroots organizations in several other states have been watching the results in Maine before deciding to launch their own ballot measures.

“We of course are excited about our victory for 70,000 Mainers who up until today had been deliberately denied access to quality healthcare, but we are equally proud of being the first of what we hope will be a number of states that take action on Medicaid through ballot initiatives,” said Mainers for Health Care Campaign Manager Jennie Pirkl. “There’s no doubt The Fairness Project will play a big role in making the upcoming states successful, just as they provided us with invaluable guidance and assistance that was so critical to achieving our victory this year.”

The Medicaid expansion in Maine will provide health care coverage to adults between 20 and 64 years old who qualify for the program. Federal funds were earmarked for the state three years ago. The expansion is expected to create 6,000 jobs in Maine and help preserve the state’s community hospitals and rural health centers.

The Fairness Project supports ballot initiatives across the country to make progress for workers and families in a political system that is rigged against everyday Americans. In 2016, the organization worked on ballot measures to increase the minimum wage and expand access to paid sick leave in five states and the District of Columbia. Those efforts gave paid sick leave to 2.1 million workers and raised wages for more than 8 million people, putting more than $2.5 billion into workers’ pockets since the beginning of the year.

For more on The Fairness Project’s efforts to help voters protect or expand their health care, visit www.defendourcare.org.

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