Activists hoping to expand Medicaid in Idaho say they turned in more than 70,000 signatures Friday to get the measure on the ballot in November.
Volunteers passed the dozens of boxes of petitions one by one up the capitol steps.
Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville teared up as he hugged fellow organizers. Mayville says the possibility of having voters choose whether or not to expand Medicaid is just hitting him.
“Just the scale of that opportunity is overwhelming,” he says.
To qualify for the ballot, petition signers have to be spread out across at least half of Idaho’s legislative districts.
State lawmakers have taken up the issue of healthcare access many times in the past, but they’ve never passed a bill citing concerns about expanding state government.
“Unfortunately, we have come up short year after year and I can stand here and tell you that politics has always seemed to get in the way,” says State Rep. Christy Perry (R-Nampa).
Perry, who recently lost a primary bid for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, now co-chairs the ballot initiative campaign.
If voters approve the measure in November, state lawmakers could still overturn it. Mayville says that would be a “betrayal."
“We believe this is a life-or-death issue for thousands of people and the voters are going to understand that and we think the legislators will understand that.”
The ballot initiative would expand Medicaid for up to 62,000 Idahoans, should it pass.
A similar campaign in Nebraska also turned in their signatures Friday to put a similar question before voters there in November.
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