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Politics & Government
In the world of social programs, Medicaid is one of the hardest to understand. It’s something of a catch-all program for low-income people, covering broad and divergent needs. Included are healthy children and adults with eligible dependent children, people with disabilities or special health needs, and the elderly. Eligibility is income-based and it varies according the category of qualification for the program.During the state’s 2011 fiscal year, more than three quarters of the funding allocated to the Department of Health and Welfare’s budget went to Medicaid. The program received about $1.55 billion in federal and state funding, with 74 percent of those dollars coming from the federal government.Enrollment in Idaho’s Medicaid program has grown substantially in recent years. The average monthly Medicaid enrollment was fairly stable between 2006 and 2008. It grew by about 3.5 percent. But in the last three years, the program’s enrollment has grown nearly 21 percent. Ballooning from about 185,000 in 2008 to 228,897 in 2012.

Statewide Survey Explores Idaho Views On Health Care, Refugees

Kate Haake
AP Images
Hundreds of Idahoans lined the halls of the state Capitol to testify the hearing of a Medicaid expansion bill in Feb. 2016. Closing the health care gap is a priority for Idahoans, according to a new Boise State survey.

On Friday, Boise State University released a survey that examined the attitudes of Idahoans on key policy issues. The second-annual survey included views from 1,000 Idahoans.


Boise State political science professor Justin Vaughn directed the research team for the survey. Vaughn says they were careful to poll people from different parts of the state, evenly polling both cell and landline phone users.

Although much of the results were comparable to last year’s findings, healthcare has increased in significance for Idahoans. Vaughn says when asked about the population of state residents who don’t qualify for Medicaid and are uninsured, respondents were clear.

“Seventy percent of Idahoans either strongly or somewhat favored closing the health care coverage gap," says Vaughn. "Compared to only 22 percent who opposed it.”

The survey also looked at attitudes toward refugees, and revealed stark differences depending on the age of the respondent and where they live. More than 60 percent of people aged 30-44 support refugee resettlement, while less than 40 percent of senior citizens agree. 

Vaughn points out that attitudes toward refugees are more favorable in Twin Falls and Boise, but much less favorable in northern Idaho.

“So the two places where refugees are, those parts of the state are actually the most supportive of refugee resettlement. And the places that are not are least likely to support it.”

 Vaughn says he hopes the survey will inform policy makers at the statehouse.

“Our hope is that it would give another tool to our decision-makers when they decide, ‘Alright, what are we going to focus our energy on?’ And then when we decide there are particular questions that we need to find the answer to, this is one more piece of information that we can use when we’re considering different options.”

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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