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Thursday, October 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Sen. Jordan’s proposal: Expand Medicaid now, then work on waiver, like N.H. did

Jordan (Betsy Z. Russell)
Jordan (Betsy Z. Russell)

Sen. Maryanne Jordan, D-Boise, said her recommendation to the Legislature’s interim committee on Idaho’s health coverage gap is to endorse a straight Medicaid expansion. That, she said, would cover everyone in Idaho’s gap, and “take advantage of full federal matching rates.” She said, “I think regardless of political considerations, any recommendation we make, no matter what it is, should provide the most economic benefits to the state and, most importantly, the most comprehensive solution for the 78,000 Idahoans in the gap.”

“We’re already being taxed to pay for Medicaid – the money just isn’t coming back to Idaho,” Jordan said. “It’s going to other states. Four years of inaction have left millions of dollars on the table that could be growing the Idaho economy.”

She cited numerous presentations the joint committee has received to bolster her recommendation, including Idaho’s own budget projections showing tens of millions in potential savings to the state and county property taxpayers. “Seventy-eight thousand of our fellow citizens are suffering needlessly right now while a solution remains just beyond their grasp,” she said.

“We’ve all heard from every corner of the state about support for Medicaid expansion. And if this committee, and by extension the Legislature, is to recommend something less than a comprehensive solution, I feel we will be letting our citizens down. … My feeling on the data we’ve seen is that the most fiscally responsible way is the expansion of Medicaid.”

Jordan noted that today, the panel learned that Idaho could expand its existing Medicaid program immediately without any need for a federal waiver, as New Hampshire did, while it takes time to design a waiver program for a year or two down the road. “That meets the immediate need,” she said.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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