Health Policy

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Biden Backs Government Health Care Buy-In Plan

Health care is likely to be a big issue during the 2020 presidential campaign. Former Vice President Joe Biden today waded into this debate, unveiling his plan to reshape America’s health care sector. But his ideas are drawing a sharp distinction between him and more liberal members of his party.

 

Under Biden’s plan, the federal government would operate a health care program where any American could buy into. This resurrects the “public option” program that was initially part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. President Obama pushed for this type of government buy-in, but members of Congress thought that it was too problematic. It did not make it into the final version of Obamacare.

 

This public option stands in stark contrast to an idea that is increasingly popular with progressive Democratic politicians: a single-payer system, where private insurance is outlawed and the government runs the health care sector. Sen. Bernie Sanders has championed this most actively, but this idea has also gained ground with other candidates for president.

 

Biden points out that single-payer, also called Medicare for All, involves ending Obamacare. Biden said he is proud of that law and wants to build on it, not repeal it. He also notes that many people like their private insurance, so outlawing that would be a major disruption for millions of Americans.

 

Under the Biden plan, there would also be expanded subsidies for insurance purchases as well as allowing more people to access Medicaid. Biden also wants to provide more funding to Planned Parenthood. He would pay for these ideas with a new tax on investment income earned by taxpayers with higher incomes.

 

Whether it is a public option or single-payer, any such system must be approved by Congress. If Republicans maintain control of either chamber after the 2020 election, either idea seems unlikely. In fact, it is unclear how much support either idea has among Democratic members of Congress.

 

Do you support a government health care program that allows people to buy into it but still allows private insurance? Should there be a single-payer system where there is no private insurance? Or should there be some other health care reform?

NY Ends Religious Exemption for Vaccination

New York is experiencing its worst measles outbreak in decades. In response, the state will no longer allow parents to cite their religious beliefs to refuse meeting vaccination requirements for school enrollment.

 

Under a bill signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, parents wishing to enroll their children in school can no longer say their religious beliefs preclude them from vaccination in order to gain an exemption from the mandate. Children who have medical conditions that do not allow them to be vaccinated could still receive an exemption. Children who are home schooled do not have to be vaccinated.

 

Many of the measles cases in New York are centered in the Orthodox Jewish community, many of whose members shun vaccinations. Some Orthodox Jewish leaders protested this new law, saying it will infringe upon their religious beliefs. Backers of the bill said that there is no religious right to spread diseases to others.

 

Public health advocates have been pushing to make it more difficult for parents to opt out of the vaccination schedule. They point to the rising cases of measles and other diseases that can be stopped by vaccines, saying that parents are using loopholes to avoid proven ways to stop these outbreaks. Some parents are pushing back, citing health or moral concerns as reasons to avoid vaccinating their children.

 

In recent years, both California and Maine have revoked their religious exemptions to vaccine mandates, joining Mississippi and West Virginia – and now New York – as the only states without this exemption.

 

Do you think that parents should be able to claim religious reasons to avoid vaccinating their children prior to school enrollment?

AOC, Cruz Team up on Birth Control

Conservative Senator Ted Cruz and Progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez don’t agree on much. But they appear to have found common ground via Twitter on a subject that affects the lives of tens of millions of Americans – birth control.

 

Specifically, the two lawmakers agree that oral contraceptives for women should be available without prescription. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classification for these contraceptives do not allow them to be sold over the counter, forcing women to get a prescription if they want them. There is growing bipartisan consensus that this should change.

 

Some states have passed laws allowing pharmacists to write prescriptions for oral contraception, making it easier for women to buy it. Sen. Cruz and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez want to go further, however. They would like to see the FDA reclassify these drugs to enable their purchase without any prescription at all. For the FDA to do this, it will take a lengthy reclassification process. President Trump has signaled his support for this, saying in 2016 that women should not be forced to get a prescription to buy contraception.

 

If the FDA does reclassify these drugs, they would be much easier for women to purchase. However, some worry that if they became over-the-counter drugs, then insurance would no longer be forced to provide them at no charge to users. They see this move by conservatives as a way to undermine the Affordable Care Act.


For the FDA to begin examining oral contraceptives for over-the-counter sale, a company must petition the agency to do so.

 

Should the government allow birth control pills to be sold without a prescription?

Beverly Hills Bans Tobacco Sales

Smokers in Beverly Hills will soon have to go outside the city limits to buy tobacco. The city council recently voted to prohibit the sale of tobacco and vaping products in most retail establishments.

 

In a unanimous vote, the council passed a law banning the sale of cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products as well as electronic cigarettes. Hotels and cigar lounges are exempt from the law, which affects all other retail establishments in the city limits. This ban takes effect in 2021.

 

Backers of this measure say that it is necessary to protect public health. The ordinance states that it is a way to promote the city’s healthy image. Opponents counter that tobacco users will merely go to retailers outside the city limits to buy their products. This, they argue, will hurt businesses in Beverly Hills but do nothing to decrease tobacco use in the city.

 

This action by Beverly Hills is the first time that a city has banned almost all tobacco sales. Some other California cities are also considering a similar ban.

 

Do you think that the government should prohibit the sale of tobacco products?

Senators Want Tobacco Age to be 21

States across the nation are increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21. Now the U.S. Senate may act to prohibit anyone under 21 from buying tobacco nationwide.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, and Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, have teamed up on legislation that would raise the federal tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21. Both senators are from major tobacco-producing states, but they say that public health concerns are foremost in their mind.

 

The bill, if enacted, would make it a crime for a retailer to sell tobacco products or vaping products to anyone under 21. It would also cut off some federal funds to states that do not set their tobacco purchasing age at 21.

 

These senators, and others who want to see the age increased, argue that it is a vital way to stop teenagers from starting smoking. They point out that most smokers start in their teen years, so this would prevent older teens from supplying cigarettes to younger teens. Backers of the proposal also contend it is necessary to combat the rise in teen vaping. Critics say that the law establishes adulthood at 18, so the tobacco purchase age should not be higher.

 

Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., have laws setting the tobacco purchase age at 21. Some of these state laws exempt military personnel from the higher purchase age, but the federal legislation would not.

 

With the majority leader’s backing, this bill is likely to receive consideration by the full Senate.

 

Do you think that the federal government should prohibit anyone under 21 from buying tobacco or vaping products?

House Wants to Mandate More Obamacare Outreach

It’s no secret that the Trump Administration is not enthusiastic about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The Democrats in the House of Representatives have noticed this, and they recently passed a bill to force the federal government to do more to promote this law.

 

On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 987, the Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower (MORE) Health Education Act of 2019. Here’s how VoteSpotter describes it:

 

To require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct marketing for the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act that are operated by the federal government. The bill mandates that such outreach must be in “culturally and linguistically appropriate formats.”

 

The vote was 234-183, with 5 Republicans joining the Democrats in supporting it.

 

Under the ACA, states can set up their own health insurance exchanges or, if they don’t, the federal government will operate one in the state. This legislation concerns those federally-operated exchanges. Supporters of this legislation say it is necessary to counteract efforts by the Trump Administration to reduce outreach and education for these exchanges. Opponents of the bill counter that this is just an effort to prop up a failing health care law.

 

The legislation now advances to the Senate, which is unlikely to bring it up for a vote.

 

Do you think that the Trump Administration should be doing more education and outreach for Obamacare insurance?

Judge Strikes Down Ban on Unvaccinated Kids in Public

On Friday a state judge ruled that a New York county could not ban unvaccinated children from public gathering places in light of a measles outbreak there.

 

In late March, Rockland County Executive Ed Day issued an emergency declaration prohibiting children who had not received a vaccination against measles from attending schools, daycare centers, malls, or other enclosed places where the public gathers. The ban would last for 30 days.

 

Executive Day issued this ban due to a high number of measles cases confirmed in the county. He said it was necessary to stop the spread of the disease. Last week a judge disagreed, placing an injunction on the order, stopping it for now. Families opposed to the ban argued that it was an improper use of the executive’s emergency power.

 

Do you think that unvaccinated children should be banned from public places during disease outbreaks?

House Pushes Trump to Defend Obamacare in Court

The legal fight over the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is currently raging in court. This week, the House of Representatives condemned the Trump Administration’s efforts to see this law invalidated by court order.

                                 

On April 3, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 271, which condemns the Trump Administration’s legal actions against the ACA. That resolution calls on the Trump Administration to reverse its course and defend the law from legal challenges. It passed by a vote of 240-186, with 8 Republicans joining all but one Democrat in backing it.

 

In February 2018, attorneys general and governors from 20 states filed a lawsuit arguing that a portion of the ACA was unconstitutional and the entire law should be invalidated because of that. Initially the Trump Administration took a stance that the portion of the law in question, the minimum essential coverage mandate, was indeed unconstitutional, but that this portion could be ruled so without overturning the entire law. A federal judge in December 2018 agreed with the plaintiffs, finding this part of the law unconstitutional and saying that the entire law had to go because of it.

 

After that ruling, the Department of Justice changed course, saying that this ruling should be upheld and that the entire ACA was unconstitutional. The case is still being litigated, but this new position from the Trump Administration weakens the argument in favor of the law. In most cases, the Justice Department defends federal law when they are being challenged in court.

 

While the resolution passed by the House of Representatives urges the Trump Administration to once again defend the ACA, this is unlikely to have any effect. The Department of Justice is expected to continue arguing that the law should be invalidated. It remains to be seen how the courts will decide, especially since this case is likely to make it to the Supreme Court.

 

Do you think that the Trump Administration should defend Obamacare in court?

Time to End Prescriptions for the Pill?

Birth control has emerged as a contentious issue in the wake of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. Now two senators want women to be able to buy birth control pills without a prescription.

 

Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa, and Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, have introduced S. 930. This legislation would not directly remove the current Food and Drug Administration rule requiring a prescription to access the drug, since Congress does not have the power to do this. It would, however, expedite the process of moving the drug to over-the-counter usage.

 

Currently, the process could take up to five years. There is some interest among drug companies for applying to petition the FDA to do this. If this legislation becomes law, it would give priority to such applications.

 

Some states currently allow pharmacists, rather than doctors, to write a prescription for birth control pills. That makes them easier to get, but not as easy as if they were approved for over-the-counter sales.

 

Do you think that the federal government should allow birth control pills to be sold over the counter?

Bill Would Limit Opioid Prescriptions to 7 Days

Patients who use opioids to treat their pain would not be able to receive more than a 7-day supply under legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate.

 

Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democrat Kristin Gillibrand of New York have introduced S. 724. This bill would require that when physicians register with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, they pledge not to prescribe opioids in excess of a 7-day supply and not to offer a prescription refill.

 

Supporters of the bill contend that this would limit the amount of leftover opioids that may fall into the hands of addicts or potential addicts. They argue that evidence indicates that there is little need for longer opioid prescriptions for pain management. Opponents counter that this is a decision that should be left to doctors, not government bureaucrats. They also say that some people need longer prescriptions for chronic pain management, so a 7-day limit is cruelly depriving those patients of needed medication.

 

Fifteen states have similar laws limiting opioid prescriptions.


Do you think the government should limit opioid prescriptions?

Washington May Tighten Up Measles Vaccination Requirement

Washington state is facing its worst measles outbreak in two decades. Some legislators think that the state’s lax requirement for measles vaccination is to blame. They are considering legislation that could close loopholes that have led to that state having one of the lowest vaccination rates in the nation.

 

With 55 people in Washington and across the border in Oregon sick with measles, Governor Jay Inslee has declared a public health emergency. Most of those infected are unvaccinated children, with the epicenter of the outbreak in a county that has a large unvaccinated population.

 

Washington’s immunization law allows people to enroll their children in school without receiving a measles vaccination if they have a philosophical objection to it. The state also has a large anti-vaccination community that questions the safety of vaccines. Public health officials say that this is the exact scenario that will lead to a larger measles outbreak.

 

Those in the anti-vaccination community contend that vaccines are not safe and that measles is not much of a health threat. Experts counter that the safety of vaccinations has been well proven, and that studies questioning this safety are flawed or fraudulent. They also point out that measles is highly contagious and can be deadly to the unvaccinated, which can include infants and those with compromised immune systems.

 

A legislator has introduced a bill that would only allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children for religious and medical reasons. Such legislation has failed in past years to advance in the legislature. In lightof the recent outbreak, advocates for the bill hope that they will see success in this year's legislative session.

 

Do you think that parents should be able to refuse vaccinations for their children based on philosophical objections? Or should they be allowed to skip vaccinations only if they have religious objections or there is a medical reason?

Illinois May Raise Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

The minimum age for buying tobacco products in Illinois may soon go up to 21. After failing with a similar proposal last year, legislators are back with a bill that would increase the tobacco purchase age in that state.

 

Currently someone who wants to buy tobacco in Illinois must be 18. That is the same minimum purchase age for tobacco that exists in most states. However, public health advocates and some lawmakers think that 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds should be prohibited from purchasing or possessing tobacco.

 

These advocates argue that allowing young adults to purchase tobacco sets them up for an addiction that lasts a lifetime. They say that raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 will help protect these young adults’ health and contribute to a reduction in the smoking rate. Opponents counter that adults should be free to buy tobacco products if they want. They say that politicians should not be making this choice for adults who know the risks that come from using tobacco.

 

A handful of other states already restrict tobacco purchases to individuals 21-years-old or older. These include California, Oregon, Hawaii, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maine. A few states, such as Alabama and Utah, set the minimum age for tobacco purchases at 19.

 

Do you think that the legal age for tobacco purchases should be raised to 21?

Massachusetts AG Places Opioid Crisis Blame on Oxy Maker

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey thinks she knows who is to blame for America’s opioid crisis: the pharmaceutical companies that make OxyContin and other opioids.

 

In a filing this week, Healey argued that the Sackler family, who owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, pushed doctors to prescribe heavy doses of the drug even after it knew the dangers it posed. Her efforts are part of a wider legal strategy by state and local governments to sue opioid manufacturers. These suite are seeking money from these companies for these governments’ expenses in dealing with the opioid crisis.

 

According to the legal theory being put forward by Healey and other plaintiffs, opioid manufacturers made and marketed these drugs knowing that they were addictive and dangerous. They encouraged doctors to prescribe the drugs regardless of the harm it would cause to users. They say that the high rates of opioid addition and overdoses we are seeing today is a direct result of these companies’ actions.

 

This legal argument is being resisted by the companies and others. They note that opioids are tightly controlled by the federal government. They said that the companies complied with federal laws and regulations regarding opioids, and should not be blamed for people who misuse their products. They point out that the vast majority of overdoses are due to heroin or fentanyl, not prescription opioids.

 

A federal judge in Ohio is overseeing most of the legal cases against opioid manufacturers. It is unclear when he will make a final judgment in the case.

 

Do you think that opioid manufacturers are responsible for creating the opioid crisis? Should state and local governments sue these companies to recoup costs they incur due to heroin or fentanyl addiction and overdoses?

New York City Promises Health Care for All – Even Illegal Immigrants

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants every New York City resident to have health care coverage. He recently pledged $100 million to provide that coverage to uninsured New Yorkers – including any undocumented immigrants who want to sign up.

 

The program as envisioned by the mayor will be called NYC Care. Uninsured city residents can apply for the program and be assigned a doctor and access to a variety of health care services. It will be offered at no cost to those with lower incomes, but city residents with higher incomes will have to pay on a sliding scale.

 

In presenting the plan, Mayor de Blasio argued that it is both morally and fiscally responsible to offer this program. He said that everyone, regardless of their immigration status, deserves health care. He also said that providing this coverage would be more cost-effective than when the uninsured use emergency rooms or let serious conditions go untreated.

 

Critics counter that that taxpayer dollars should not be used to provide services to people in the country illegally. They also say that this program will likely be more expensive than predicted, leading to higher taxes for the city’s residents.

 

Do you think that New York City should offer health care coverage to all uninsured residents, even those who are in the country illegally?

Maryland May Pass Individual Health Insurance Mandate

A centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is the individual mandate – a government requirement that someone must be covered by health insurance or pay a fine. The Trump Administration has made this mandate moot, but that does not mean that state governments cannot impose one. That is what some Maryland legislators will be pushing to enact next year.

 

The idea being floated in Maryland would require an individual to be covered by some sort of health insurance, whether through a government program like Medicaid or through the purchase of private insurance. Those who do not have such coverage will face a fine of $750 or 2.5% of a household’s income. However, that fine can be used as payment for the purchase of health insurance through the state exchange.

 

Supporters of this mandate say it is necessary because the Trump Administration essentially ended the federal insurance mandate by setting its penalty for non-compliance at zero dollars. They argue that the only way for insurance to be affordable is if everyone participates in the system. Opponents counter that insurance is expensive, so it makes no sense to force people to buy a costly product they may not be able to afford. Instead, they say, the state should focus on measures that would reduce the cost of health insurance in the state so more people buy it.

 

It is unclear if there are enough votes in the heavily-Democratic General Assembly to pass this individual insurance mandate. If it emerges from the legislature, it would have to be signed into law by Republican Governor Larry Hogan. He has not indicated if he would support it or not.


Do you think that states should mandate that individuals purchase health insurance or face a fine?

Obamacare is Unconstitutional Says Federal Judge

By a single vote, the U.S. Senate failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Now a federal judge has done what lawmakers failed to do – invalidate the key legislative accomplishment of President Obama’s two terms in office.

 

On Friday, a federal judge in Texas ruled in a lawsuit brought by attorneys general from 20 states. It centers on how the individual mandate to be covered by health insurance interacts with the rest of the ACA. In the tax bill signed by President Trump last year, the penalty for violating this individual mandate was set at zero. The attorneys general argued that the mandate is essential to upholding the rest of Obamacare. If there is no penalty, they say, the mandate is unenforceable, and the rest of the law cannot work.

 

Judge Reed O’Connor agreed with these arguments, striking down the law.

 

Supporters of this ruling say that without an individual mandate, the health insurance markets simply will not work as the architects of the ACA intended. Opponents argue that the judge overreached using weak legal logic. They contend that he could have provided a much narrower ruling, and that this decision was an example of judicial activism meddling in what should be the prerogative of legislators.

 

This ruling will not immediately invalidate the entire law, however, as it will be appealed to a federal circuit court. The case may end up before the Supreme Court, which has already upheld key parts of the ACA.

 

Do you think that Obamacare is unconstitutional? Should the law’s insurance mandates and other provisions be scrapped since the individual mandate has essentially been repealed?

Cases Challenging Planned Parenthood Funding Bans Stand

Today, the Supreme Court took a minor foray into the debate over abortion. The justices refused to hear cases challenging court decisions involving state bans on Planned Parenthood funding. Some see this as a victory for abortion rights, but the reality is more complex.

 

A number of states have passed laws removing taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood. While Planned Parenthood provides a variety of reproductive services, the organization also performs abortions. Lawmakers who voted to end government money to Planned Parenthood did not want to provide financial support for an organization involved with abortion.

 

Predictably, there were lawsuits. In Kansas and Louisiana, the cases involved whether or not Medicaid recipients who received services from Planned Parenthood could sue over the ending of state support for the organization. Lower courts held that they could and the Supreme Court declined to take a case that would have reviewed these court decisions. This decision allows the lower court cases to proceed.

 

Three justices, with Clarence Thomas in the lead, said the court should have taken up the case. He pointed out that the issue did not directly involve abortion rights, but instead involved the question of whether or not an individual could sue under the Medicaid Act. However, he claimed that the other justices were reluctant to wade into a wider debate over abortion, so they declined to take up this case.

 

This case involved only one aspect of the Planned Parenthood funding bans. There may be other cases involving this issue that reach the Supreme Court in the future.

 

Do you think that states should cut off funding for Planned Parenthood? Should people who receive services be able to sue if the funding to Planned Parenthood is eliminated?

Obamacare Contraception Mandate Being Revised

For the past six years, there have been legal and regulatory fights over the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. With the Trump Administration getting set to announce new rules on the mandate, it appears these fights will continue for years to come.

 

The ACA, or Obamacare, mandated that employers provide contraception coverage as part of their health insurance benefit at no charge to their employees. The Obama Administration wrote rules that required employers to offer coverage for all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This has led to ongoing lawsuits over the constitutionality of the mandate. The Supreme Court has ruled in one case that some corporations can be exempt from the mandate on religious grounds.

 

In response to another court cases, both the Obama and Trump Administrations have been devising regulations that would allow certain religious-based nonprofits to claim an exemption from the mandate. Several states challenged the Trump Administration’s 2017 rules that would have given a broad religious exemption from the mandate and a federal court struck them down.


The Trump Administration is preparing new rules that will attempt to survive a legal challenge. Observers expect them to give wide leeway to groups that do not want to provide coverage of contraceptive services that violate their religious beliefs.

 

Opponents of an expansive exemption to the contraception mandate say that the religious beliefs of employers should not dictate what types of health care that employees receive. They argue that contraception decisions are between a patient and a doctor, so an employer should have no say over it.

 

Those who favor a broad exception to the mandate say that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to force people to pay for contraceptive services that they view as immoral. They point out that this contraception would not be banned, and that employees could purchase it on their own.

 

It is unclear when the Trump Administration will announce these new contraceptive mandate rules. When it does, there will likely be lawsuits challenging them.

 

Do you think that religious nonprofits should be forced to offer contraceptive coverage even if such contraception violates the religious beliefs of those who operate the organization?

Medicaid Expansion on the Ballot in 4 States

In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, which expanded eligibility for Medicaid. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not force states to participate in this Medicaid expansion. Now, in 2018, voters in four states will decide whether or not to embrace a Medicaid program that covers more people.

 

Medicaid is a federal program that provides health coverage to people with disabilities and people in poverty. It is jointly administered and funded by both the federal and state governments. The federal government mandates that certain people must be covered by the program; states can choose to expand coverage for others.

 

Under the ACA, or Obamacare, the federal government mandated Medicaid eligibility be extended to childless adults who live in households with incomes less than 138% of the federal poverty level. This was a departure from past practice, which focused coverage on parents, expectant mothers, children, and people with disabilities.

 

In a 2012 case, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not force states to fund this higher-income population. Many states have decided to expand coverage on a voluntary basis, however. Some states resisted, citing budgetary concerns.

 

This year four states have ballot initiatives that would bypass legislators to expand Medicaid:

 

  • Idaho: Proposition 2 would expand Medicaid to childless adults in households with an income less than 133% of the federal poverty level.
  • Montana: I-185 would increase the state’s tobacco tax to expand Medicaid to childless adults in households with an income less than 138% of the federal poverty level.
  • Utah: Proposition 3 would increase the state’s sales tax from 4.70% to 4.85% to pay for an expansion of Medicaid to childless adults in households with an income less than 138% of the federal poverty level.
  • Nebraska: Initiative 427 would expand Medicaid to childless adults in households with an income less than 138% of the federal poverty level.

 

Another Medicaid initiative has already been approved by voters this year. Oregonians voted in favor of Measure 101 in January to approve a legislative expansion of Medicaid and a tax on insurance to fund it.

 

Supporters of allowing more people to access Medicaid argue that this will reduce the uninsured rate, leading to better health outcomes. They contend that since the federal govenrment is paying for the bulk of the expenses, this makes fiscal sense, too. Opponents counter that even with a small share of the Medicaid funding, this expansion could impose large costs on the state budget. They also argue that Medicaid was not intended to cover able-bodied adults with no children, and expanding it to this group will divert resources from children, parents, and people with disabilities.

 

Do you support expanding Medicaid to childless adults? At what income should Medicaid coverage be limited? Do you support increasing sales or tobacco taxes to pay for expanded Medicaid services?

 

Dueling Medical Marijuana Initiatives on Missouri Ballot

 

Missouri voters will have the chance to make Missouri the 31st state to legalize medicinal marijuana. To accomplish this, however, they will have to choose between three amendments on November’s ballots, each presenting a different way to legalize marijuana for medical use.

 

The three measures that qualified for inclusion on this year’s ballot are Amendment 2, Amendment 3, and Proposition C. Each one would remove legal penalties for using medical marijuana, but each has a different tax rate and different use for tax revenue.

 

Amendment 2 would tax medical marijuana at a 4% rate, using the revenue for health care and veteran care. Amendment 3 would establish a 15% tax rate on medical marijuana, using that revenue to fund medical research into curing cancer and other diseases. Proposition C would not amend the state constitution, unlike the other two ballot questions. Instead, it would change state law, imposing a 2% tax rate on medical marijuana to be used for health care, drug treatment, public safety, and early childhood education.

 

When there are competing ballot measures concerning the same subject, the one with the most votes generally prevails. However, there could be a legal question if Proposition C, which is merely a statutory change, gains more vote than either of the constitutional amendments. Constitutional amendments are a higher source of authority than a change in state law, so it is likely that the state Supreme Court will decide which measure prevails if that situation occurs.

 

Do you support legalizing medical marijuana?

 

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