News | Tech: The 2018 midterms will have a big impact on healthcare, from Medicaid to abortion — here are the results

Tech: The 2018 midterms will have a big impact on healthcare, from Medicaid to abortion — here are the results

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The 2018 midterm elections on Tuesday will have some big healthcare consequences.

Democrats won control of the House of Representatives while Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate. That means Washington deadlock could prevent any big legislative changes. Also likely off the table is repeal of the Affordable Care Act or big cuts to Medicaid, which were narrowly defeated in the Senate last year.

Some of the biggest healthcare changes will likely come on the state level. Voters in at least two red states voted to make more low-income people eligible for their state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. Democratic victories in governor races in states like Wisconsin and Kansas could lead those states to expand Medicaid, too.

Read more: Midterm key takeaways: Trump's message flops, and Democrats set the stage for 2020

In other states, voters rejected major changes to the way healthcare is paid for and administered, and passed new anti-abortion measures. Here's a roundup of the results.

Two red states voted to expand Medicaid.

President Donald Trump listens to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Servicesplay

President Donald Trump listens to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Residents of Idaho and Nebraska voted to to broaden access to their state Medicaid programs to more low-income people, in line with actions taken by 34 other states and Washington, DC under the Affordable Care Act.

A similar proposal in Utah was leading, with 54% of the vote, but ballots are still being counted in the state.

If voters in all three states choose to expand eligibility for Medicaid, roughly 325,000 more people could gain access to the health program, according to Avalere.

In Montana, voters rejected a proposal to raise taxes on tobacco products and make Medicaid expansion permanent, with 55% opposing it. That means the state's Medicaid expansion is scheduled expire next year.

California rejected limits on payments to dialysis providers.

A nurse prepares a dialysis machine.play

A nurse prepares a dialysis machine.

(Radu Sigheti/Reuters)

One of the biggest fights in healthcare went down in California.

Voters there rejected a proposition that would limit the amount of money dialysis providers make, after heavy spending by the industry. About 62% of voters opposed the measure.

Dialysis helps patients whose kidneys aren't working properly filter impurities out of the blood (healthy kidneys would remove those impurities).

The process can be expensive — Medicare nationally spends $34 billion a year on the treatment.

If Proposition 8 had passed, DaVita, one of the largest providers of dialysis, would have lost $450 million a year, California Healthline reported.

About $111 million had been raised to defeat the bill, the Washington Examiner reported. Of that, DaVita contributed $66 million while rival Fresenius has contributed $33 million.

Massachusetts defeated ballot measure to limit the number of patients assigned to nurses in hospitals.

Massachusetts defeated ballot measure to limit the number of patients assigned to nurses in hospitals.play

Massachusetts defeated ballot measure to limit the number of patients assigned to nurses in hospitals.

(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Massachusetts voters soundly rejected Question 1, which would have placed limits on the number of patients nurses are assigned in the hospital. About 70% voted against the proposal.

The idea was that by limiting the number of patients, it could keep nurses from getting overwhelmed and improve care.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed the measure. "Question 1 would set a safe maximum on the number of patients nurses can treat, so that patients can receive the quality care they deserve," Sanders said in a statement.

Hospitals opposed the measure, arguing that the limit would lead to increased medical costs and less flexibility, in part because they'd need to hire more nurses.

Maine voted down a proposal to increase taxes to pay for care for seniors.

Former North Koreans sit in chairs in front of the community center of Abaimaul, or "Town of Grandpas"play

Former North Koreans sit in chairs in front of the community center of Abaimaul, or "Town of Grandpas"

(REUTERS/Han Jae-Ho)

Maine voters rejected a measure that would have increased taxes to fund care for elderly people in their homes. About 63% opposed the proposal.

Maine's Question 1 would have levied a 3.8 percent tax on income above $128,400. The money would be used to pay for in-home care for all people 65 and over who need it in the state.

The measure would have raised taxes on about 10 percent of Maine residents, and generated about $310 million a year, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Alabama and West Virginia supported new anti-abortion measures.

Activists demonstrate outside of the Department of Health and Human Services in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children to obtain an abortion on Oct. 20, 2017.play

Activists demonstrate outside of the Department of Health and Human Services in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children to obtain an abortion on Oct. 20, 2017.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Voters in Alabama and West Virginia supported measures to explicitly ban abortion in their state constitutions. Both already have abortion bans in state law as well, according to Governing.com, though the bans can't be enforced because of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.

Alabama's Amendment 2 passed with the support of 59% of voters. The tally was closer in West Virginia, where 51.7% voted for Amendment 1.

Oregon, meanwhile, rejected a proposal to prohibit the use of public funds for abortion, except in cases where a doctor determines that the procedure is necessary, or in cases where federal law requires the state to pay for an abortion. The measure would have stopped the state's Medicaid program from covering abortions for low-income women.

About 64% of voters opposed the Oregon measure.

Oklahoma, Georgia, and Nevada also had healthcare issues on the ballot.

Oklahoma, Georgia, and Nevada also had healthcare issues on the ballot.play

Oklahoma, Georgia, and Nevada also had healthcare issues on the ballot.

(Reuters)

Voters weighed in on a number of other healthcare measures across the country.

In Oklahoma, the vote was too close to call on a proposal to let places like Walmart and Costco give eye exams. Forty seven other states allow the practice.

Georgia passed a ballot referendum that would help nonprofits in the state provide housing for those living with mental illnesses.

Nevada voters passed a proposal to make medical equipment — like oxygen tanks and wheelchairs — exempt from taxation.

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By Kwame Ntow 07/11/2018 08:48:00