Boise's first significant snowfall hampered a good many plans today, but when mental health advocates know that Medicaid funding once again hangs in the balance at the Idaho Legislature, they come out in force.
The keyword was "organization" at a unique roundtable this morning, considering the impact of Medicaid in Idaho, which saw nearly $34 million in cuts in state funding last year. Matched with federal funds, Idahoans lost about $70 million in services.
The discussion included input from Medicaid recipients, their service providers, law enforcement and advocates for the disabled and infirmed.
"Our community has begged to have Medicaid back," said Retta Green from Caldwell. "Because people are really suffering."
Mike Ferguson, Idaho's recently retired chief economist and the new director for the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, outlined how the 2010 and 2011 Idaho legislatures continued to "take money off the table," resulting in significant cuts to Medicaid and other services.
"And now the governor is recommending that we put $60 million into a rainy day fund for future reserves," said Ferguson. "But rainy day funds are supposed to be replenished when the weather is better. But the current economy tells us it's still raining."
"Our elected officials should protect the Medicaid program," said Veronica Solis of Boise. "It makes a huge difference in the health of my children and family."
Medicaid provides comprehensive health coverage to more than 210,000 Idahoans—more than 150,000 of them children.
"Four of them are mine," said Terri Sterling of Culdesac.