While the presidential race and contests for seats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives got the most attention on Nov. 6, voters in some states got the chance to decide on a number of referendum questions as well. Here are some of the key results on proposals affecting Americans 50 and older.
- The health care law. In four states — Alabama, Florida, Montana and Wyoming — ballot measures sought to block the Affordable Care Act‘s individual mandate, which requires people to sign up for health insurance, or else pay a small penalty, starting in 2014. (That year, the penalty will be $95 for an adult and up to $285 or 1 percent of a family’s income, according to this U.S. News analysis.) The referendums passed in every state except Florida, but the Supreme Court’s decision in July to uphold the mandate rendered them all moot. Another anti-Obamacare measure that passed was Missouri’s Proposition E. It requires the state’s governor to obtain approval from state legislators or directly from voters before instituting one of the statewide insurance exchanges envisioned by Obamacare, which would allow individuals and small businesses to shop for the least expensive health insurance online.
- End-of-life decisions. By a narrow 51 to 49 percent tally, Massachusetts voters rejected Question 2, which would have legalized physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. The opposition included “religious, medical and disability rights groups,” the Boston Globe reported. Those groups outspent proponents 5 to 1. Only Washington and Oregon have legalized assisted suicide, and 34 states have passed statutes banning it. Six others, including Massachusetts, have legal precedents blocking the practice.
- Protecting Medicaid. Louisiana passed Amendment 1, which now bars state officials from tapping into the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly to reduce state budget deficits. Voters in South Dakota, in contrast, rejected Measure 15, which would have increased the state’s sales tax and other levies to fund Medicaid and education.
- Voter ID. In Minnesota, voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have required residents to produce a photo ID before they could vote in future elections. While proponents argue that such laws prevent electoral fraud, critics say that they disproportionately hinder the elderly from voting.
—Patrick J. Kiger