As Congress works to replace the Affordable Health Care Act, several local groups are concerned about proposed cuts to Medicaid.
Eligibility in Idaho is limited mainly to children, seniors and people with disabilities. Slashing Medicaid funding at the federal level could mean severe cuts to the program.
A national report out this week, revealed cuts would impact rural areas the most. "Medicaid in Small Town America: A Lifeline for Children, Families and Communities," finds that 39 percent of children in rural areas and small towns in Idaho receive health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. Lemhi, Adams, Lewis, Custer, Clearwater, Idaho, Clark, Boise, Butte and Madison counties are within the top ten counties by percentage of children on Medicaid. The share of children in those counties with Medicaid or CHIP coverage varies from 53-46 percent.
"Medicaid provides critical access to life-saving treatment and protection from rising health care costs to many children and families living in small towns and rural America," says Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. "Cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs would take those protections away from many and risk financial ruin, denial of health care or both."
The U.S. House already passed the new American Health Care Act. While the U.S. Senate is working on their version, Idaho Voices for Children urges senators representing Idaho to hold off on a vote until their constituents can weigh in.
"Our elected officials take their time in making smart policy decisions, and we encourage our Congressional Delegation to do the same with this and really make sure they understand the impacts to Idaho, especially rural communities, our most vulnerable populations, before they move forward," says Christine Tiddens with Idaho Voices for Children.
According to Tiddens, 73 percent of Medicaid participants in the Gem state are children.
Information on the proportions of children and adults in rural areas in the national report primarily relies on data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, or ACS. The full report is available at: ccf.georgetown.edu.