Health Care Victory Not For All Idahoans

Today, the Supreme Court rejected an attack on the Affordable Care Act, our country’s historic health care law. Now, 6.4 million people can rest more easily, knowing their health insurance won’t be stripped away.

ICAN led grassroots leaders in the fight for health care for everyone in Idaho. The ACA was a major victory, and it’s here to stay.

“But it’s not time for us to celebrate in Idaho,” said Robynhawk Wilson, ICAN board member. “Our lawmakers have refused to expand Medicaid, and about 90,000 Idahoans are being shut out of quality health care as a result. This refusal is steeped in racial injustice: a large portion of those still excluded are people of color.”

In Idaho about 450 citizens die each year without access to health care. Currently, adults with incomes between 26-100% FPL do not qualify for subsidies through the ACA or Medicaid benefits.

“The country is moving forward with health reform, and our state lawmakers have no more excuses. It’s time to stand up for all Idahoans.”

Critical Need: Expanding Medicaid in Idaho, #3

photo of a man smilingDave Lounsberry, Lewiston. A little more than 10 years ago, when I had a good, steady mill job here in Lewiston, I was definitely one of those “doing fine.” After losing that great job and piecing together a living with part-time work, I am now one of those treading the “fine line.”

What scares me most, at age 59, besides watching my friends die, is going without access to health care. I don’t earn enough to qualify for the health care exchange. I would be eligible for coverage under expanded Medicaid – and so would more than 78,000 Idaho residents – but our Idaho governor and lawmakers have remained hesitant about the risk of accepting federal money.

I can tell them a little bit about risk. As a former U.S. Marine, I try to keep myself in good health. But at my age, I know the possibility of getting sick or injured is very real. I could lose everything I have struggled for. Providing health care to people in need is not a risk. By accepting the federal funds we are simply saying yes to bringing our own federal tax dollars back here to Idaho where it belongs. This money will save lives and create new living wage jobs. That is called common sense.

Critical Need: Redesigning Medicaid in Idaho, #2

photo of a woman sitting at a restaurant smiling into the cameraRobin Evans, Grangeville. Together my husband and I share a newspaper delivery contract. Seven days a week, we wake up early to deliver newspapers to neighboring communities. In total we travel an average of 575 miles each week over rural mountain passes and all the papers must be delivered before most people wake up. For all our dedication and commitment , we earn less than $1000/ month.

Shortly after I return home from the delivery route, I prepare for my second part-time job, working in the cafeteria at the elementary school. Combined, these two part-time jobs still leave us without a living wage, without access to health care and without sufficient income to meet monthly expenses.

Our family lives on about $13,000, and for our family size our income falls under 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). In Idaho, we are not eligible for health care through the Medicaid program. We also do not qualify for any subsidies in the Health Care Exchange, as subsidies begin at 100% FPL. No access to health care for more than five years played it toll last year on our family and we have racked up hospital bills of more than $25,000 and health issues demanding access. My husband has been unable to work because of medical issues, for which he has no access.

A lack of a decent wage has put us in a precarious housing situation. We are grateful to the generosity of a fellow church member for a house to rent, even though we struggle and fall behind on rent. Still, we keep doing the best that they can to get through each month, relying on community food programs and prioritizing which bills to pay and what medications we can live without. Without access to health care, we are walking time bombs. It’s time to take action and close the coverage gap!