Dear Editor:

Absentee ballots are out and Prop 2 is up for a vote after signatures were gathered to get the issue on the ballot.  Election day is Nov 6.

The greatest benefit of Prop II is it provides medical insurance to the working poor and the mentally ill in the “Gap”.  People in the insurance “Gap” (those that cannot qualify for Medicaid because they make too much money and not eligible for subsidies by not making enough money) consist of approximately 62,000 Idahoans.

I serve on the Region II Behavioral Health Board where we work to improve the lives of those with mental illness and substance use disorders.  We find many of those we advocate for will benefit from Medicaid expansion with access to health care.

Another huge benefit is the support Medicaid Expansion will do to secure our rural hospitals.  For example, Syringa and St. Mary’s hospitals each lose roughly $1 million to bad debt and Clearwater Valley hospital loses roughly $1.5 million each year.  Medicaid Expansion will cover most of these losses and help secure and protect our rural hospitals.

Proposition II will eliminate County indigency and State Catastrophic Health Care funds saving tens of millions of tax dollars.  When a person goes to the county indigent program to cover health care expenses, their property is liened until the debt is paid; so folks are stuck with long term debt, many for life.

Some oppositon is due to birth control controversy.  Medicaid expansion is no different than current Medicaid program.  In my view, we should  be looking to what the insurance will do for prevention, curbing chronic illness, premature death (approximately 500 people in Idaho will die prematurely each year) and helping folks move out of poverty due to huge medical bills.

Our friends and neighbors will greatly benefit from “Gap” health insurance.  Please vote “yes” for Proposition II.  The benefits for healthier people, securing our rural hospitals, cuts in county and state taxes, and economic stimulus are reasons to support Proposition II.

Jim Rehder

Cottonwood

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