When the Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, some 24 million Americans were able to obtain health insurance who previously had none. As part of this act, states were offered the chance to expand Medicaid for its poorest citizens, with the federal government picking up the tab. Gov. Otter and our elected officials in Idaho chose not to accept this offer and instead allowed 78,000 of its citizens to be without coverage.
Other states, including our neighbors in Montana, chose to accept this offer. Montana’s Medicaid expansion program has saved the state health department more than $30 million since its start in January 2016, mostly because the federal government paid a bigger share of the costs for some recipients, officials said. The program covers some 84,000 residents and has paid for $574 million in health care services since it began.
Erica Johnston, with Montana’s Public Health and Human Services Dept., told an oversight committee that even as the state continues to pay a share of the costs for recipients under Medicaid expansion, Montana is still ahead of the game. “Our current budget crisis would be worse today in the absence of Medicaid expansion,” she said.
Now voters in Idaho are being given the chance to decide this issue ourselves, via a ballot initiative to appear on this November’s ballot. This issue will expand Medicaid to Idahoans who earn less than $16,000 per year if they are single and $22,000 a year for a family of two. It is 90-percent funded by the federal government and will ensure that federal tax dollars we currently send out of state will remain in Idaho to help other Idahoans. These are taxpayer dollars you are receiving sent back to you for health care coverage.
You can sign the petition at Women’s Healthcare at 1215 Michigan St., Ste. C, or at Panhandle Art Glass, 514 Pine St., in Sandpoint. Find out more about how you can help at www.medicaidforidaho.org.