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News >  Idaho

Gov. Otter endorses Medicaid expansion in Idaho

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 30, 2018

By Betsy Z. Russell Idaho Press

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has endorsed Proposition 2, the Medicaid expansion initiative on the November ballot, and he and First Lady Lori Otter are appearing in new campaign commercials in favor of it.

“Allowing the healthcare coverage gap to persist any longer is not an option,” Otter said in a statement. “We cannot continue to let hardworking Idahoans go without healthcare. I’m

proud that the citizens of Idaho have come up with a solution to solve this long-standing

Problem.”

He added, “Proposition 2 will provide healthcare to 62,000 Idahoans and it’ll bring $400 million of our tax dollars back to Idaho. In addition, Proposition 2 will keep our rural hospitals and county clinics open. I strongly support expanding healthcare to folks who need it. It’s good sense and it’s the right thing to do.”

Over the past six years, Otter convened multiple study groups that recommended expanding Medicaid in Idaho to cover people who fall into the state’s current coverage gap, because they make too much to qualify for the state’s limited Medicaid program, but they don’t make enough to be eligible to purchase subsidized health insurance through the state insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho.

He’s proposed various modified versions of expansion to the Legislature, from a proposal to provide just primary care to those in the gap to a “dual-waiver” plan that would have covered about half of those in the gap, but the Idaho Legislature rejected all of them. That prompted the citizen initiative this year, which gathered more than 75,000 signatures to place the expansion idea on the ballot for an up-or-down vote of the electorate.

Thirty-three states have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, with Virginia, the most recent, just accepting applications for its new program this week. Medicaid expansion originally was part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, for all states, but a U.S. Supreme Court decision subsequently made it optional for states.

Jon Hanian, Otter’s press secretary, said, “ I can confirm that he did cut spots for them and he is endorsing Prop 2.”

Idaho polls have shown strong support for the measure.

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