With the Idaho Legislature keeping one eye on the Statehouse exit in anticipation of wrapping up its 2015 session, health care advocates say they're worried that another legislative session will have come and gone without any consideration of expanding Medicaid.
With that as a backdrop, the Idaho Community Action Network on Thursday unveiled a study, titled "Breaking Barriers to Health Access in Idaho,"
revealing that 78,000 low-income workers and families have been "denied access to health care and costing the state billions of dollars that could be used to improve health facilities and create good-paying jobs."
"There is the very real problem of not enough doctors or clinics, language barriers and cultural barriers," said Gary Delgado, author of the report. "That has to change."
In particular, Delgado pointed to a quarter of Latino respondents reporting that they had not seen a doctor in more than a year and were less likely to have had preventative care, blood tests or X-rays in the past six months.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has designated all but five of the Idaho's counties as primary care health professional shortage areas. Idaho ranks 49th in the number of doctors per capita, and many of those doctors are expected to retire within the next year, according to the study.
"The information is crystal clear," said Boise Democratic Rep. Mat Erpelding. "We have got to move forward with Medicaid expansion."