The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was supposed to
expand Medicaid to cover everyone within 133% of the federal poverty level by
2014; however, the Supreme Court took away the federal government’s ability to
enforce this expansion, allowing states to opt-out. Under the health care
reform law, the federal government will pay the full cost of covering newly
eligible people from 2014 to 2016, then will scale back funding to 90 percent
in 2022 and later years. If every state were to participate, the total increase
in state spending would amount to just 3 percent
while millions would gain health coverage, according to an analysis by the
Urban Institute and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Governor Otter in his State of the State and
Budget address rejected Medicare expansion despite generous federal support. The
governor's decision also contradicted a unanimous
recommendation from a commission appointed by Otter that the state
take advantage of the available federal funding to broaden Medicaid.
There are about 100,000 low-income adults in
Idaho who don’t currently qualify for Medicaid.
Currently taxpayers cover their medical bills through the state’s
Catastrophic Fund. Idaho could add 88,000 poor people to Medicaid
under the Obamacare expansion, and 19,000 people already eligible under today's
rules, but not enrolled, also may sign up for coverage. The state would spend
an additional $261 million from 2013 to 2022 to cover these individuals and the
federal government would send $3.7 billion to Idaho, a net financial gain for
Medicaid expansion for all Idahoans is
critically important to the health of Idahoans medically and economically. Providing affordable coverage to our most
vulnerable individuals will prevent more life threatening and disabling disease
that will ultimately incur greater costs to our state. Sick and disabled individuals cannot work
which erodes the tax base further draining medical and disability resources. Furthermore, more affordable healthcare
insurance coverage puts more money in the pocket of patients who are more
likely to support local businesses and thereby growth of the economy.
Our most vulnerable citizens will be at much
higher risk for death and disability if Medicaid is not expanded to cover them.
Though the Governor’s reticence is disappointing, we are optimistic that state
legislators will carefully consider all sides of this issue and pass an economically
responsible law that reflects compassion and respect for all its citizens.
United Action for Idaho, and the undersigned
share a commitment to securing healthcare as a human right under an improved
and expanded Medicare-for-all model. Protecting the current expansion of
Medicaid is a small but necessary and life-saving step.
United Action for Idaho
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