After years and years of working to bring health care access to Idaho’s working poor and uninsured, our voice has developed the power necessary to be heard loud and clear! Volunteers and grassroots leaders from many groups across Idaho, frustrated with political agendas that have denied all Idahoans from the benefits of Medicaid Expansion, took to the streets early in January with the answer.
A ballot initiative was circulated asking that Idahoans be allowed to vote on whether the state should expand Medicaid to cover the working poor up to 133% FPL. The process was made challenging by many requirements including collecting a qualifying amount of signatures from 18 districts. In addition, even more signatures were required.
ICAN members have long known the benefits Medicaid Expansion would bring to Idaho. In addition to saving thousands of lives, the expansion would also create new jobs, and save taxpayers money.
Several reports located in our archives indicate that Medicaid Expansion could create an estimated 13,000 new jobs. These jobs would likely be living wage jobs that offer good wages and benefit packages. These jobs would also address the overall shortage of health care providers across the state.
Medicaid Expansion will also lower our tax burden. When the ACA was implemented, it authorized Medicaid Expansion for states cover lower-income families. Part of the plan included removing funding for indigent care to pay for the expansion. Idahoans having been paying federal taxes for the program, however by not expanding the program, our representatives have essentially been giving our money to all the states that chose to expand their programs instead. In addition, we still have indigent care costs that result in higher state and local taxes, including property taxes!
Well in case you haven’t figured it out yet, after months of hard work by a large, spontaneous, and organic group of amazingly fabulous and fearless humans, the vote will go to people!
One of the greatest outcomes of all of this, up to this point, is restoring the belief in democracy and the power of our vote. Many people believe that their vote doesn’t make a difference, yet 60,000 signatures had the power to do this! In November, Idaho voters will be heard on this issue and all votes will definitely count.
Clearly, the outcome we care about is saving lives. While the ballot initiative is a milestone, the work is not done. Voter registration and voter education is critical to bringing health care home for all Idahoans.
Will we build the power to build do it? Stay tuned and watch us!