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Eye On Boise

Labrador claims Idaho Health Care Plan bill was ‘Medicaid expansion’

Oddly, GOP gubernatorial candidate Raul Labrador has just sent out a statement headlined, “Labrador praises conservatives in the Idaho Legislature for rejecting Medicaid expansion,” saying of the Idaho Health Care Plan bill that was sent back to committee from the House today, “There’s no question this proposal would have expanded Medicaid and made thousands of Idahoans dependent on the government for their healthcare.”

Labrador apparently is referring to the approximately 2,800 extremely ill Idahoans, with specific conditions, who the bill would make eligible for Medicaid in order to lower premiums for everyone else with private insurance plans on Idaho’s insurance exchange, where those dying patients now are covered. That would generate enough savings to enable about 35,000 Idahoans who now fall into a coverage gap to be eligible for subsidized private insurance plans on the exchange; the proposal would require two waivers from the federal government.

“Medicaid expansion” generally is the term for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to cover the working poor; Idaho lawmakers have declined to take that step, though it would have covered all Idahoans in the gap through Medicaid largely at federal expense, a group now estimated at up to 62,000. A ballot initiative currently is pending in Idaho to do exactly that, expand Medicaid under the ACA.

Labrador’s statement says, “The Idaho Legislature was right to reject the Little-Otter administration’s attempt to expand Medicaid in Idaho. There’s no question this proposal would have expanded Medicaid and made thousands of Idahoans dependent on the government for their healthcare. States that have expanded Medicaid under Obamacare have enrolled more than twice as many able-bodied adults as they expected, leading to massive cost overruns and crippling these states’ ability to fully fund education, public safety, and other critical services for the truly needy.”

HB 464 wouldn’t have enrolled any “able-bodied adults” in Medicaid; just the 2,800 critically ill patients.

Labrador, currently Idaho's 1st District congressman, is facing Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Boise businessman and physician Tommy Ahlquist and several others in the May 15 GOP primary for governor; in the Democratic primary, hopefuls include Boise businessman and longtime school board member A.J. Balukoff and former state Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer.

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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