Local Ballot Initiatives Impacting Health and Healthcare

There is a good deal of commentary about what happened at the nationally in this year’s election cycle. But a good deal happened at the state level as well – things that will impact healthcare and may influence how other states respond. In addition, there were state issues that were voted on that could have an impact on the national debate of some specific topics. All in all, according to Ballotpedia, there were 154 measures available for voters to consider across the states this November, and a number of them touched on healthcare.

In that capacity, here are a few the state ballot initiatives that are of note:

  • Prop 61 – California – Pharma Pricing – This proposition would have required state agencies to pay either the same or a lower price for prescription drugs than the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs .  The measure was seen as a focal point on the issue of pharmaceutical pricing. The measure failed with 54 percent against to 46 percent in favor.
  • Amendment 69 – Colorado – Single Payer – This measure would have created a single payer healthcare system called ColoradoCare that would provide universal healthcare for residents of the state and financed through a tax on wage and non-wage income. The measure was soundly defeated by nearly 80 percent against to 20 percent in favor.
  • Proposition 60 – California – Condoms in Pornography – Certainly one of the more unusual ballot initiatives voted on this cycle involved a proposal to require actors in pornography films to be given condoms to wear during performances and would further have required the makers of the films to cover the costs of medical screenings and examinations. The measure failed with nearly 54 percent against compared to 46 percent in favor.
  • Proposition 106 — Colorado – End of Life – This ballot measure sets up standards that would allow residents to legally seek and obtain assistance to end their life through the self administration of drugs when facing the circumstance of a terminal illness. The measure passed by nearly 65 percent in favor to 35 percent opposed.
  • Multiple – Medical Marijuana – There were a number of marijuana legalization ballot initiatives, some of which were about recreational use, but several of which were specific to medical need –
    • Arkansas Issue 6 – allows medical use of marijuana for 17 specific qualifying medical conditions, passed 53 percent in favor with nearly 47 percent opposed;
    • Florida Amendment 2 – would allow the regulation of marijuana by the state and use by patients with qualifying conditions such as HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Parkinson’s Disease, PTSD, ALS, MS, cancer and epilepsy- passed 71 percent to 29 percent;
    • Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative – would amend existing law passed by the legislature to remove existing numerical restrictions on medical marijuana providers who had been limited to the number of patients they could serve, among other things – Passed by nearly 57 percent to 43 percent;
    • North Dakota Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative – Sets up regulation of cultivation and distribution for medical marijuana for patients of specific medical conditions passed by nearly 64 percent to 36 percent.
  • Soda and Sugary Beverage Taxes – While a significant yes regarding the use of medical marijuana, there was also support for a tax to be placed on soda and beverages containing sugar in four municipalities. The taxes work by leveraging a tax on the ounce for specified types of beverages and the municipalities where the measures passed primarily in California – San Francisco (62 percent in favor, 38 percent opposed), Oakland (61 percent in favor and 39 percent opposed) and Albany (71 percent in favor, 29 percent opposed) and one in Boulder Colorado (don’t have the percents).

All of percentages were gleaned from the site Ballotpedia and were rounded up.

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