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Thursday, December 5, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Group warns of grave consequences for Idaho in Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill

The “Close the Gap Idaho” coalition is decrying the new GOP health care bill that’s now pending in the U.S. Senate, saying it contains catastrophic cuts for Idahoans with disabilities who rely on the state’s current Medicaid program, along with eliminating the subsidies that currently allow 74,000 Idahoans to purchase insurance plans through the state’s Your Health Idaho insurance exchange.

Jim Baugh, executive director of Disabilities Rights Idaho, said, “Idahoans with disabilities rely on Medicaid services to get into and out of bed, to bathe, eat and conduct other activities of daily life. The Cassidy-Graham proposal would create an unsustainable cost-shift to state budgets that could produce unforeseen and catastrophic consequences for Idahoans with disabilities.”

The group said the Graham-Cassidy bill is a “repeal without replace” bill that would remove coverage from 32 million or more people across the nation.

Susie Pouliot, CEO of the Idaho Medical Association, said it would “derail” the state’s successful insurance exchange. And Brian Whitlock, president of the Idaho Hospital Association, said, “Two of the three major provisions of this bill are absolutely horrible. Loosening regulations is a good thing, but cutting healthcare funding and depriving thousands of hard-working Idahoans of necessary coverage are not reforms that will improve the access and affordability of healthcare.”

Close the Gap Idaho is a broad coalition of healthcare stakeholders in Idaho, including representatives of providers, consumers, advocates, clergy, charities and more. The group began by advocating to close Idaho’s health coverage gap, which leaves roughly 78,000 without affordable care options because the state hasn’t expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act; it has continued to study and advocate for ways to improve health care in Idaho. There’s more info online here.

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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