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Still Fighting: At Idaho Statehouse Demonstration, Medicaid Expansion Organizers Call for Clean Bill from Legislature

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On Election Day last November, it was the will of the people: Idaho would enact Medicaid expansion, but at the Idaho Statehouse steps on Feb. 4, organizers and affiliates of Reclaim Idaho, the group that organized a massive, statewide drive to pass the measure, said the fight for expansion isn't over yet.

"Proposition 2 [Medicaid expansion] is the Idaho way, and it's the legislature's job to implement the will of the people: clean Medicaid expansion now," said Idaho Rep. Muffy Davis (D-Ketchum).

HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
Advocates emphasized the word "clean." Recently, a small group of Idaho GOP legislators floated the idea of attaching restrictions, and possibly a work requirement, to its funding mechanism, and that's why on a cold Monday afternoon, more than 200 people from across the Gem State showed up at the Capitol Steps to call for lawmakers to pass a clean bill funding expansion.

Among them were Rick Davis and Patty Feuerborn of Pocatello.

"It's stall tactics," said Feuerborn. "Some people don't have the best interests of the state or the people in mind."



Though it was scarcely mentioned from the podium at Monday's event, the expansion movement is being challenged in Idaho Supreme Court, which heard a petition from the Idaho Freedom Foundation argues the measure gives unconstitutional lawmaking power to the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare.

"The Idaho Freedom Foundation is really showing its true colors this time," Davis said.

The frustration on the part of organizers at the event was palpable. For six years, the Legislature declined to "close the gap" of tens of thousands of Idahoans who earn too much to apply for Medicaid, but too little to afford health insurance through Idaho's Affordable Care Act exchange, Your Health Idaho. In 2018, Reclaim Idaho took the issue to voters, and their approval pulled it out of the wash cycle of having expansion stall in legislative committees every year.

"These restrictions are bad policy, but even more than that, that's not what we voted for," said Reclaim Idaho Co-founder Luke Mayville. 

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