Dear Editor:

Sometimes in healthcare, we seek a second opinion.

For some Idaho legislators, the memory of 61% of Idahoans supporting Medicaid expansion seems to have faded just four months after the November election. Last week, they received a second opinion.

In a statewide poll conducted in late February, Idahoans were asked if they believed the legislature should implement the will of the people, or change the law that was passed by voters. An overwhelming 74.3% of Idahoans said, “Implement the will of the people.”

Despite that strong, and growing, support among Idahoans for implementing Proposition 2 as passed, a lot of “sideboards” have been discussed since the election. Sideboards usually help keep things in the wagon, but it is clear that those designing these legislative sideboards are doing it to keep people out of health coverage.

One barrier to coverage would be a mandatory work reporting requirement. This would involve the state spending millions to track the work, training or education of those who receive Medicaid. In addition to working two or three jobs to make ends meet for their family, those low-income workers would then have to catalog those hours and report them to the state. The state says it will cost $2 million to track the activities of working Idahoans on Medicaid.

Rather than implementing costly and burdensome reporting requirements, other states have focused on training and education opportunities for their Medicaid recipients. In Montana, 58% of the participants in their work promotion program increased their wages by an average of over $8,000 annually.

Idahoans clearly prefer less red tape and regulations. 67% of Idahoans supported work promotion programs that help Idahoans better their lives. Only 22% of Idahoans supported a costly, mandatory work requirement. Voters don’t want to see Idahoans lose access to critical medications because of red tape.

Meanwhile, the one thing the Legislature needed to do – appropriate funding for the state’s 10% match – seems to be moving along without any controversy. On Wednesday, Feb. 27, the Joint Finance and Appropriation Committee set the overall Medicaid budget for FY2020, and included $9 million in General Fund and another $10 million from the Tobacco Settlement Fund to cover the state’s share of Medicaid expansion.

There’s a reason every Idaho Hospital supported Proposition 2 and why we now push for implementation without costly, bureaucratic restriction that limit enrollment or create additional barriers to coverage.

The people have spoken – twice – and said Medicaid expansion is good medicine for Idahoans!

Brian Whitlock

President/CEO, Idaho Hospital Association

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.