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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Health care advocates decry House move to kill health care bill without a vote

Health care advocates are decrying the House’s move today to send the Idaho Health Care Plan bill back to committee without a vote for a second time, marking a sixth straight year lawmakers have declined to take action to address the state’s health coverage gap. “Medicaid expansion is the only thing left to solve the problem with the gap in Idaho,” said Tracy OIson, a leader with Medicaid for Idaho, a group that’s gathering petition signatures for a ballot initiative. The group recently announced that it’s gathered half the signatures it needs.

 “We are shocked and disappointed that, once again, the Legislature won’t even vote on this important issue,” said Sam Sandmire, also a Medicaid for Idaho leader. “The Legislature has failed the people of Idaho for seven straight years by refusing to accept Medicaid expansion, the solution to Idaho’s health care crisis. It’s time for ‘We the people’ to vote on this issue.”

The Close the Gap Idaho coalition, which long has pushed for ways to close Idaho’s health coverage gap and includes health care providers, advocates and more, issued a statement this afternoon expressing disappointment in the House’s move.

“It is incredibly disappointing that our Legislature wouldn’t even give the Idaho Health Care Plan a vote today,” said Neva Santos, Executive Director of the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians. “Multiple representatives fought for their constituents today before leadership decided they would kill this bill. Thirty-five thousand more Idahoans could have had health insurance, premiums could have been so much lower for folks that need that relief next year. Instead people will remain uninsured and health care costs will continue to rise.”

Jim Baugh, executive director of Disability Rights Idaho, added, “This is disappointing because we know many Idahoans with mental and behavioral health issues are living in the coverage gap. This plan could have been a way to help many Idahoans struggling with mental illness to buy health insurance, and get at least some of the treatment they need. It isn’t right that they have to face another year of suffering in the gap because leadership didn’t want to take a vote.”

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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