The people of Idaho have spoken on access to health care through Medicaid expansion, and they will not rest on this issue until they are sure the Legislature respects the will of the voters.

On Feb. 4, Reclaim Idaho brought volunteers from all over the state to the Capitol in Boise to meet with more than 40 lawmakers. Their message was simple: implement Medicaid expansion the way nearly two-thirds of Idahoans voted for.

Those volunteers are the same people who walked their neighborhoods with clipboards and pens collecting signatures to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot last November. Now they are climbing the steps at the Capitol, speaking with elected officials about the benefits of a program they worked so hard to get passed.

As a newly elected lawmaker, I’m still learning the ropes at the Capitol. However, it doesn’t take a seasoned politician to recognize that Idahoans want quality health care for their friends and neighbors and $400 million of their federal dollars to come back to our state. The people of my district spoke loud and clear on those points. They passed Medicaid expansion with 71 percent of the vote—one of the biggest landslides in the state. That’s why I am lending my voice to the hundreds of thousands of Idahoans who want their families, friends and neighbors to grow stronger and have a real shot at success.

Sixty-one percent of Idahoans voted for a “clean” Medicaid expansion program, which means a program without obstacles to getting coverage for those who qualify. Implementing Medicaid expansion with no barriers to coverage is not only the will of the people but also the best option for the state. Creating obstacles will only increase costs, grow the state bureaucracy and drown working Idahoans in red tape. If Idaho’s lawmakers succeed in putting “side boards” on Medicaid expansion, they will only succeed in soaking you of your tax dollars to pay for bigger government. They will also create a “second gap” of working Idahoans who otherwise qualify for benefits but get kicked out of the program because they fail to fill out paperwork. Under that scenario, we all end up paying for the hugely expensive and inefficient emergency care we voted to eliminate under Proposition 2.

A “clean” Medicaid expansion program will also stimulate Idaho’s economy. By bringing $400 million of our federal dollars back to Idaho, we stand to create thousands of well-paying jobs and strengthen our rural hospitals and communities. I value all of those results, not just for my constituents but for all of Idaho.

Medicaid expansion is the biggest positive change to hit Idaho in a generation. That’s why Idahoans from all over the state are coming together to make sure it gets funded as the voters want it. Access to health care is one of the most essential parts of any individual’s ability to prosper and support his or her family. We have the chance to protect families, prevent needless diseases and injuries and improve the overall health and prosperity of the state. As an elected lawmaker, I believe I have a duty to fulfill the will of the people. I will work tirelessly to do just that this legislative session.

Rep. Muffy Davis represents Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Lincoln counties in the Idaho Legislature.

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