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Decision on adding work requirements to Medicaid still up for debate

Posted: 3:48 PM, Mar 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-08 19:49:12-05
Decision on adding work requirements to Medicaid still up for debate

BOISE — When nearly 61 percent of Idaho voters supported Medicaid expansion in November, some thought the debate was over. However, it's hardly the end of the conversation.

On Friday public testimony revealed both support and concern over House Bill 249.

The point of having the hearing was getting something out there we can discuss," said Rep. Megan Blanksma.

Supporters for the bill, which in part would add work requirements to Medicaid users, compare the requirements to those of the SNAP program. They also stated work requirements would actually help individuals get off Medicaid.

"Absolutely the objectives outlined in this bill are very important," said vice president of Idaho Freedom Foundation Fred Birnbaum.

Others in attendance, disagree. Some draw their opinions based on first-hand experiences with family and loved ones who have disabilities.

"Regardless of just financial piece, the psychological piece I think of how much harm this could cause someone knowing if I love my job, if I don't get those 30 hours per week, if I can't maintain that I lose my healthcare too, I think that's not just financially damaging but psychologically too," said Rachel Sjoberg, who spoke in opposition.

No vote happened on Friday, but the conversation will likely pick back up early next week.

"I think there are some concerns and the billing where it's at will not be dealt with today," said Rep. John Vander Woude.