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Idaho Medicaid Expansion Initiative Nearing The Finish Line

James Dawson

The campaign to ask Idaho voters whether they want to expand Medicaid eligibility says it’s met a significant milestone.

It’s taken months, but Medicaid for Idaho organizer Sam Sandmire says the group has met one of two requirements to get the group’s initiative on the ballot in November.

They gathered enough signatures across different legislative districts, but they still need about another 1,200 valid signatures from anywhere in the state.

“Gathering six percent of registered voters’ signatures in 18 different districts in a rural, spread out state like Idaho is an extraordinary task,” Sandmire says.

The group hopes voters will get a chance to decide whether or not to extend Medicaid coverage to up to 62,000 Idahoans who currently earn too much to qualify for the program, but earn too little to get a subsidy for a health insurance plan offered under the Affordable Care Act.

Last weekend, Medicaid for Idaho still needed to lock down two more legislative districts, so they pushed hard to get voters in Canyon County to sign petitions.

“Last Saturday, 200 volunteers showed up to canvas in Nampa and Caldwell and I think that was a real turning point for us on the positive side,” Sandmire says.

The Idaho Secretary of State’s office will still need to verify each signature before the petitions are accepted.

If the campaign succeeds, it’ll be the first ballot initiative to go before voters since a strict qualifying law was enacted in 2013.

Sandmire says there will be one final push over the next few days to ensure the campaign has enough signatures before the May 1 deadline.

“It’s like a steamroller right now. The campaign has just gathered so much momentum and everyone wants to be involved and help get this on the ballot,” she says.

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

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!