New governor, legislature to tackle Medicaid expansion

Posted at 5:41 AM, Jan 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-02 07:41:34-05

BOISE (KIVI) — Idaho is soon to have a new governor for the first time in 12 years and it's not the only big change coming out of the Statehouse.
Even as Idahoans head into the new year preparing for big changes in the governor’s office and legislature, a controversial point on the new agenda will be how to go about Medicaid expansion.

"Everyone thinks we voted for Medicaid expansion, it's over; (but) no,” said College of Idaho professor Jasper LiCalzi. “The proposition is no more than a piece of legislation."

The next step for Medicaid expansion is for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to submit its proposal for getting the expansion done.

"I think they're going to use the opportunity as a means to tighten up the eligibility,” said incoming Senate Health and Welfare Committee chairman Sen. Fred Wood (R-Boise). “We're going to expand eligibility, but we're going to tighten it up.”

The Department has until February 19 to submit its plan with any changes. The legislature can add work requirements or require some sort of copay, but these decisions aren't taken lightly, according Martin.

"It passed the state of Idaho by about 61 percent, Ada County by 70 percent and my legislative district by 65 percent, so I'd be very cautious in making any changes to the existing law," said Martin.

Recently, the Idaho Freedom Foundation filed a lawsuit claiming the expansion of Medicaid is unconstitutional. Senator Martin is looking at other states which have faced similar circumstances.

"There was a lawsuit in Texas that the judge sided it was unconstitutional,” he said. “The Supreme Court has already ruled a couple of times that it is, but this will go through the court system and I'm not worried about it. One way or another we'll deal with it."