Nearly two-thirds of Idahoans voted to implement a clean Medicaid expansion program in our state. The reasons are easy to understand: We will bring $400 million in federal dollars back to Idaho, we will provide health care for tens of thousands of our friends, family and neighbors, we will create thousands of well-paying jobs and we will shore up our rural hospitals. All told, the vote of 61 percent of Idahoans makes sense.
Unfortunately, the politicians don’t think you know what you voted for.
Never mind that Medicaid expansion has been debated around this state for the last six years.
Never mind that 70 percent of the country has adopted Medicaid expansion.
Never mind that the politicians voted to create a multi-million-dollar bureaucracy that will kick thousands of Idahoans off of health care, send them to emergency rooms, which you pay for with your property taxes, and prioritize paperwork over strong communities.
Thankfully, you have a say in all of this.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare just announced a 30-day public comment period in which you get to weigh in on whether your friends, family and neighbors should be denied health care because they don’t fill out paperwork correctly.
What makes this even more important is the fact that government officials are required, by law, to consider your comments. If they don’t, they lose. A federal judge has already ruled on this issue three times on similar schemes in Arkansas, Kentucky and New Hampshire. In those states, tens of thousands of people lost health care coverage because of the paperwork regimes that lawmakers passed. If we apply the losses from those states to Idaho, more than 26,000 Idahoans could lose health care. But, it’s not a done deal.
Your voice matters. It’s the law.
Here’s the issue. During the 2019 legislative session, the politicians in Boise tacked on restrictions to Medicaid expansion that require people to report their work or volunteer hours. The media have incorrectly labeled those restrictions as “work requirements.” They’re not. The vast majority of Idaho’s Medicaid expansion recipients already work. The issue is whether they report those hours. In other words, the difference between receiving affordable and effective health care for your friends, family and neighbors depends on whether they fill out paperwork correctly.
We understand the word “paperwork” may be euphemistic. Most, if not all, of the reporting will likely be done online. That’s tragically ironic. Idaho ranks 41st in the nation in terms of internet access. That’s probably why Gov. Little himself created, by executive order, a Broadband Internet Task Force for “improving connectivity and infrastructure throughout the state.” Guess who suffers the most from bad internet access in Idaho? Rural and poor communities—the very same people who will benefit from Medicaid expansion.
Our own governor admits that thousands of Idahoans lack the internet infrastructure needed to meet the paperwork restrictions passed by your legislators. This sounds very much like what happened in Arkansas, where thousands of people either did not know or technologically could not comply with the paperwork requirements in that state.
Arkansas’ scheme got shot down by a federal judge. So did Kentucky’s. So did New Hampshire’s.
Idaho’s scheme should never get off the ground.
Reclaim Idaho is dedicated to protecting what you voted for. You didn’t approve a multi-million-dollar bureaucracy or paperwork restrictions that land eligible people in our state’s expensive emergency rooms. You voted for health care, jobs and security.
The politicians are trying to take that away.
Your voice counts. It’s the law.
Tell the politicians you knew exactly what you voted for. In the 10 minutes it takes you to write a comment, you can make a lifetime difference for thousands of Idaho families.
Your vote and your voice are important. Make sure the politicians know that.
Luke Mayville is co-founder and Rebecca Schroeder is executive director of the organization Reclaim Idaho.