City Club Of Boise: The Great Divide

Sep 19, 2018

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Date: Tuesday, October 23

Time: 11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Location: Grove Hotel, Ballroom Second Floor

Voters in Idaho will decide if Medicaid should be expanded to include Idahoans in “the gap” — those who aren’t covered by their employer or another agency and cannot afford to buy health insurance, yet fall outside the income qualifications for Medicaid under current state laws.

Proponents say health care should be viewed as a basic human right, and that government has a role and obligation in stepping in. In addition, they believe that supporting access to health care among all populations could save money in the long run as well as boost health and wellness. Today, the costs faced by uninsured or underinsured Idahoans who face major health bills can land on counties required to help pay for indigent health care, and a state catastrophic fund that helps cover the costs. In total, the program has cost Idaho and its counties between $30 million and $50 million a year in the past few years.

Opponents disagree, arguing that expanding Medicaid for adults comes at the expense of programs for children and pregnant women — and takes away potential funding for roads, schools and other federal and state priorities. The opportunity for states to expand Medicaid stems from changes that were part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and opponents argue any expansion is a step toward a federally mandated and controlled health care system.

Chair: Julia Robinson, DPA

Moderator: Bill Russell