Are you being represented?

Isn’t it great to see our legislators working on issues that show they share our values and concerns?

Like gerrymandering.

Idahoans up and down the state must have been contacting legislators complaining about redistricting methods being way too fair. Or maybe Republican legislators just understand  their supporters have meant to. After all, Idaho has districts where Democrats actually get elected.

Legislators only have to add one more Republican to the redistricting panel and, come 2022, we can have Boise divided up into pie wedges that include Republicans from Mountain Home and Parma.

Republicans have only an 80 percent majority in the legislature today. If 15 or so defect, the rest can barely overcome a veto by the governor.

And Democratic legislators get people riled up by talking about laws that actually help people–like increasing the minimum wage and having “full-blown Medicaid expansion.”

Think about it–it’s cruel to get people excited enough to come to the Capitol and hope someone is going to listen to them.  Better they accept that all the sob stories in the world won’t outweigh the word of a Freedom Foundation leader.

Okay, that’s not how I feel–and not even how all Republican legislators feel.  If they did, last year’s gerrymandering bill would have passed.

But it’s how a number of Republican legislators think.

Yes, I’m thinking of Medicaid Expansion.

Proposition 2, which passed by over 60 percent of the Idaho voters last November. requires that Idaho submit a Medicaid Expansion plan to the Federal government this month.

Republican Gov. Brad Little has said he will follow the will of the voters.

The Idaho Supreme Court has ruled the Freedom Foundation’s suit against the initiative was “without merit.”

So is the matter settled?

Not by a long shot.

Rep. John VanderWoude, District 22, is apparent spokesperson for “a group of about 15 Republicans” who are looking at “a dozen waiver options, including work restrictions, co-pay requirements and lifetime limits” (Lewiston Tribune, Feb. 3). He believes other Republicans will submit bills asking for one or two waivers, but his group prefers to consolidate them.

Moreover, VanderWoude’s group is asking that Idaho expansion be delayed until the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rules on each waiver. VanderWoude says he hopes the CMS can be pressured to act quickly, but admits expansion might be delayed.

That doesn’t worry the majority of Republican legislators much. After all, they had six years in which to pass Medicaid Expansion. No bill ever made it out of committee. Hearings weren’t even held until the fourth year.

In those years many legislators said up front that people don’t have a right to healthcare. Those who want it will make buying it a priority. Don’t have an extra $400 to $1000 at the end of each month?  Get a better job–or more jobs. It’s all your choice.

Now most legislators are careful not to say outright that they want to void the vote of the people.  That’d be political suicide; about 130,000 Proposition 2 supporters voted for Republican legislators.

Instead they say, let’s keep people from being dependent.  Let’s get some waivers that will get people off of aid and on their feet as soon as possible.

Translated that means let’s delay implementation a year–or two or three. Then we can get a do-next-to-nothing plan–or better, claim to be really sorry that the Feds blocked an Idaho plan.

Make it a point to learn whether your legislators vote for a “clean” Medicaid expansion to take effect next January. I think one of my three will.

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2019

Published by Judy Ferro

Judy Ferro is communication director for the 2C Dems and a columnist for the Idaho Press.

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