On the heels of a federal court ruling blocking Medicaid work requirements, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday voted to scrap a bill that would have implemented mandatory work requirements for some Medicaid recipients in Idaho.
Lawmakers voted 7-2 to hold HB 277 in committee, likely killing it for the session. The session may be approaching its final days in Boise, as one other Medicaid bill—which passed the Senate and would implement voluntary work training for Medicaid recipients—remained alive in the House on Thursday afternoon.
Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, sponsored HB 277 and wanted to implement a mandatory work requirement of 20 hours per week.
News of the federal court ruling broke during the Health and Welfare Committee hearing on Wednesday. A U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C., stopped Medicaid work requirements from moving forward in Kentucky, as well as in Arkansas. Those requirements were similar to HB 277’s, according to an Associated Press report.
“We have to come up with a solution,” Vander Woude said following the vote, according to the AP. “That’s why we started this whole process. What the solution is going to look like, I don’t know.”
The advocacy group Reclaim Idaho campaigned to qualify Medicaid expansion on ballots in 2018. Voters passed it with more than 60 percent of the vote statewide.
“Today is a major victory for all Idahoans who value working families and healthy communities,” said Luke Mayville, Reclaim Idaho co-founder, in a news release. “House Bill 277 would only inflict unnecessary pain on thousands of working Idahoans, do damage to rural communities across the state, and invite costly litigation that taxpayers would foot the bill for.”
As of press deadline Thursday afternoon, a Senate bill from Sen. Scott Grow, R-Eagle, to drastically toughen the standards for qualifying ballot initiatives in Idaho was on the floor of the House. SB 1159 passed a House committee on Tuesday, and was scheduled for debate and a possible vote Thursday. It passed the Senate last Friday by an 18-17 vote; Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, voted no.
If it passes the House and is signed by Gov. Brad Little, the legislation would require campaigns to gather signatures from 10 percent of registered voters in 32 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. The current standard is 6 percent of registered voters in 18 of 35 districts. The time allowed would shrink from 18 months to 180 days.