Vote for Prop 2!

So many others have done a great job of supporting Medicaid Expansion lately that I haven’t felt my input was needed. Scores of organizations and volunteers have spoken out loud and clear.

A recent poll by Campaign Clarity Labs, however, reports that 36 percent of Idahoans are undecided on this issue.  Now, “undecided” may simply be the polite way Idaho voters tell pollsters, “None of your business,” but if some are yet struggling with the issue, it’s time for all healthcare supporters to speak out.

The arguments in favor of Medicaid Expansion–Proposition Two on our general election ballots–are clear.

People with access to healthcare live longer and more productive lives. This is especially true for those with chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, and allergies, but few of us escape the need for healthcare over time.

Few people can pay for health insurance out of pocket. Typical premiums would require more than half the salary of a person making minimum wage.

Not all jobs provide health coverage. Many in Idaho are self-employed or contract employees or working in restaurants, stores, childcare, agriculture, and other fields that seldom offer insurance.

The Affordable Care Act subsidized health insurance for many middle class workers, but the act called for state-administered Medicaid services to cover families making less than 140 percent of the poverty level.  Idaho is one of the 17 states that has refused to cover families with incomes over 100 percent so we have 62,000 Idahoans caught in a “gap,” ineligible for either Medicaid or ACA subsidies.

The Milliman actuarial firm estimates the cost of the our current state and county programs which pay for some limited healthcare at $634.9 million over the next 10 years. Expanding Medicaid for up to 91,000 people over that time would cost $529.6 million.  Idaho might save taxpayer money by expanding Medicaid, but we may still have sizeable expenses for catastrophic care. Milliman says it’s more likely Idaho will end up spending an additional that $10 million a year on healthcare–roughly $117 annually for each new person covered.

An additional $400 million of Federal money will come into the state, creating new jobs and increasing tax revenues enough to cover the additional Medicaid costs.

We can improve lives–even save some-with little or no increase in tax rates. Fifty organizations–including the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the Idaho Sheriff’s Association, and the Idaho School Board Association–have endorsed Proposition Two.

You’d think our state legislators would have expanded Medicaid years ago, but the majority of them oppose it.  Even if Proposition Two passes this fall, the legislature can repeal it if they chose to; twice the legislature has negated initiatives requiring term limits.

Voters serious about seeing insurance coverage for the “gap” population would be wise to vote for legislators who agree.

I can’t claim to understand those who oppose Proposition Two, but it seems a lot of political donors are out to see that the wealthy get a huge cut of any public money spent on public service.

They have a dozen attacks against expanding Medicaid from calling it Obamacare to claiming you and I may have to wait longer to see a doctor. They typically argue that the Federal government is broke (but that doesn’t stop them from lobbying for payouts to businesses) and that people should be responsible for their own insurance (even if they have to go homeless or work three jobs).

But don’t  take my word for it.  Hear the arguments on both sides on Idaho Public Television at 8 p.m. this Friday.

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2018

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