Idaho Senate Chair Opposes Medicaid Restrictions: "The People Have Spoken"

Jan 4, 2019

The chairman of the Idaho Senate Health and Welfare Committee says he opposes adding work requirements under the state’s new Medicaid expansion.

Senator Fred Martin (R-West Boise) promised a crowd of more than 70 people in West Boise Thursday night that he won’t support any new restrictions to Medicaid expansion.

“I think it’s incumbent upon us in the legislature to not make changes," Martin says. "The people have spoken."

As chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, Martin can choose whether to give a bill a hearing, effectively holding the power to block legislation.

He says he would look at an amendment “if there was some glaring need,” but he doesn’t see any at this time.

Governor Brad Little says he wants to consider work requirements, among other restrictions.

“If the governor has something, I’m going to be respectful of the governor and look at those, but we are a separate body. We’re going to deliberate separately and decide what’s best in our committee and in the full Senate,” Martin says.

The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Idaho Supreme Court is also weighing the future of Medicaid expansion. The Idaho Freedom Foundation filed a lawsuit to block the popular ballot measure last year. Arguments will be held later this month.

Nearly 61 percent of Idaho voters signed off on Proposition 2 in November, which extends coverage to an estimated 92,000 low-income residents.

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