Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap Credit: Troy R. Bennett

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has replaced the word “insurance” with “healthcare coverage” in the description of Medicaid expansion as it will appear in a November referendum question.

Opponents of Medicaid expansion, which will be decided by voters this November following a citizen petition to place the question on the ballot, objected to wording proposed by Dunlap in August that described Medicaid as “insurance.”

The Medicaid question, which will be second on the ballot, will be worded as follows:

“Do you want Maine to expand Medicaid to provide healthcare coverage for qualified adults under age 65 with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, which in 2017 means $16,643 for a single person and $22,412 for a family of two?”

Dunlap said in a news release Thursday that between the Medicaid question and Question 1, which seeks to allow a casino in southern Maine, his office received more than 150 comments during a 30-day window that ended Sept. 1. On Question 1, Dunlap also removed the words “out-of-state,” which he originally proposed to describe the company that would create the casino.

“We try to capture the essence of each proposal in the question, but it is incumbent upon the voters to educate themselves on all of the details, which cannot be intelligibly included in that single sentence on the ballot,” said Dunlap.

Last month, legislative opponents of Medicaid expansion said the proposed wording had “legal problems” with the use of the word insurance at the top of their list. The Welfare to Work Political Action Committee, which opposes the question, said in a news release Thursday it was pleased with the change.

Another change in the new wording is the addition of the specific income thresholds to qualify for the program.

Expanding Medicaid is one of four questions that will be posed to voters on the Nov. 7 state ballot. In addition to the casino question, voters will decide the fate of a transportation bond and a proposed constitutional amendment related to the state’s pension system. Here is the wording of the other questions:

Question 1: “Do you want to allow a certain company to operate table games and/or slot machines in York County, subject to state and local approval, with part of the profits going to the specific programs described in the initiative?”

Question 3: “Do you favor a $105,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities or equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds, and for the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings?”

Question 4: “Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to reduce volatility in state pension funding requirements caused by the financial markets by increasing the length of time over which experience losses are amortized from 10 years to 20 years, in line with pension industry standards?”

Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.