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Monday, August 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

‘Close the Gap’ coalition urges lawmakers not to hit ‘pause’ on Idaho’s health coverage gap

From left, Tim Heinze and Luke Cavener of the
From left, Tim Heinze and Luke Cavener of the "Close the Gap Idaho" coalition urge lawmakers at a Statehouse news conference Monday to address Idaho's health coverage gap. (Betsy Z. Russell)

At a somber Statehouse press conference this afternoon, members of the “Close the Gap Idaho” coalition urged lawmakers not to hit the “pause” button on Idaho’s health coverage gap as they await word of what will happen in Washington, D.C. “The fact is that doing nothing in 2017 and waiting to see what comes out of Congress is not fiscally responsible,” said Luke Cavener, Idaho director of the American Cancer Society. “The different Medicaid funding mechanisms being discussed in Washington, D.C. would gradually shift the cost of health care to the states. That will mean more stress on our state budget and less capacity to fund other priorities, such as schools. If Idaho is at the back of the line for financial support because we sat on the sidelines today, it will mean even more harmful fiscal impacts for our state.”

Tim Heinze, CEO of Valley Family Health Care, which a community health center that operates clinics both in Idaho and Oregon, said, “Federal health care reform is coming. If Idaho continues to opt out, we may find ourselves left out.”

Close the Gap Idaho is a network of more than 200 organizations and individuals, from Idaho Voices for Children to the Idaho Medical Association, and from the Pocatello Free Clinic to AARP Idaho. The "gap" refers to the estimated 78,000 Idahoans who earn too much to qualify for Idaho's limited Medicaid program, but not enough to be eligible for subsidized health coverage through the state's insurance exchange. The group has posted more information on its website here.

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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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