Idaho voters debate whether Medicaid should be expanded

November 6, 2018 is Election Day in Idaho.
Posted at 10:28 PM, Oct 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-12 00:28:07-04

Proposition 2 is designed to expand Medicaid eligibility to the 62,000 Idahoans in the "healthcare gap."

"If you go out to dinner tonight and sit down at a restaurant, chances are the waitress, the waiter, the hostess, the cook in the back. Probably fall into that income gap," said Brian Whitlock, President of the Idaho Hospital Association.

But Meridian resident Patrick Malloy says it's not the taxpayers' responsibility to support medical costs of able-bodied adults. "Adults who could probably work," he said. "I don't think that's the necessarily the core group that we need to expand this program to."

The expansion addresses Idahoans under 65 years old who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to qualify for healthcare subsidies.

If it passes, Idaho taxpayers will pay approximately $42 million, and in return, Idaho will receive $400 million in federal funds to help pay for the healthcare of the uninsured.

"For a dime, we get a dollar to take care of people right now who are uninsured," said Whitlock.

"I think my taxpayer dollars should be focusing on the roadways, should be focusing on the schools," said Malloy.

Due to the Affordable Care Act, support from federal funding for the expansion slightly decreases with time. For instance, the federal government would cover 94 percent this year, 93 percent in 2019, and 90 percent in 2020 and subsequent years.

"You can either pay a little bit upfront for preventive care, or Idahoans are paying for the more expensive, very inefficient care that they get when they're in crisis," said Whitlock.

"I don't think it's right for me to expect somebody else, regardless of how much money they have, to pay for my medical costs," said Malloy.