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BYU-Idaho Reverses Course — Students On Medicaid Will Be Allowed To Enroll

James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Seth and MaCae Bairett, with their 7-month-old daughter, Lyssa. They're on Medicaid and say they would've had to scrape together $1,700 dollars to get extra health coverage they didn't need under a BYU-Idaho policy barring those on Medicaid from enrolling

After nearly two weeks of protest, Brigham Young University-Idaho is apologizing and reversing its decision that would’ve barred students from enrolling if Medicaid was their only form of health insurance.

Earlier this month, just weeks before tens of thousands of people would be covered under the state’s new Medicaid expansion, BYU-Idaho said it wouldn’t consider the program to be a valid form of insurance. It requires all full-time students to have health coverage.

BYU-Idaho, which is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon church, announced the reversal Monday night to students and the media.

It said in a statement that the well-being of students and families is important to the school. “We apologize for the turmoil caused by our earlier decision.”

22-year-old Kaydee Edralin will be on Medicaid starting in January and will graduate from BYU-Idaho next year. She’s been outspoken against the policy and has been following the issue closely. 

She was at home Monday night, doing laundry and checking her inbox when she saw a new email pop up.

“I opened it and I was like, ‘No way, no way. This isn’t real,’” Edralin said.

As previously reported by Boise State Public Radio, such a move would’ve forced many low-income students enrolled in Medicaid to buy an extra insurance plan that they didn’t need.

Over the last month, the LDS Church wouldn’t back BYU-Idaho, referring all questions to the school. BYU’s main campus in Provo, Utah also wouldn’t comment, saying it would still accept Medicaid.

Seth and MaCae Bairett, two new parents who are both full-time students at BYU-Idaho, also felt relief.

“It honestly feels like I can breathe again,” MaCae Bairett said.

The two had been on Medicaid for about a year after aging out of their parents’ insurance plans.

Before the reversal, BYU-Idaho had blown up their post-graduation financial plans. They were hoping to save some money for a new apartment, but had been scrambling to figure out a way to suddenly pay for extra health coverage.

“[It’s] $1,700 we’re basically getting back,” said Seth Bairett.

As for Edralin, who’s preparing to start her final year at BYU-Idaho, she had always hoped the school would change its mind. But she said she wasn’t sure it would happen.

“I wasn’t ready to come face to face with the loans I’d have to take out, but I’m just so excited.”

After first learning of the news, she called her husband to celebrate.

As for the next call she made? She let her insurance agent know her family wouldn’t need to shell out thousands of dollars for a new health policy next year.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio