When Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced the special session, he told the press and lawmakers that the Legislature would only be convened to address the child support bill. However, the Idaho Community Action Network is calling for legislators to consider one more issue: Medicaid expansion.
According to ICAN, 450 Idahoans could die this year because of the state's failure to expand the program that provides health care coverage to low-income individuals and households, and failing to grow the program has already cost Idaho taxpayers $120 million in 2015. Numerous studies have suggested that accepting federal Medicaid dollars could create jobs in Idaho and save the state money—a win-win for policymakers.
Legislation to bolster Medicaid in Idaho was drafted—and backed by key stakeholders including the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry—during the 2015 Legislature, but never made it to committee after IACI President Alex LaBeau penned a profanity laced email criticizing Trenton Republican Sen. Jeff Siddoway. When LaBeau was placed on leave following the email leak, the Medicaid expansion bill he was carrying quietly stayed in his pocket.
Now, ICAN is encouraging Idahoans to sign a petition to encourage the Legislature to take up Medicaid expansion during its session, which begins Monday, May 18.