Medicaid Work Requirements Bill Ping Pongs Back To Idaho Senate

Apr 4, 2019

What Idaho’s Medicaid expansion program will look like is yet again in flux after House lawmakers tweaked the latest bill adding mandatory work requirements Thursday.

Under the new draft, the House added a provision that would kick people off of coverage for two months if they don’t work, volunteer or go to school for at least 20 hours a week.

That person could re-apply within that two months if they prove they’re working enough.

Rep. Julianne Young (R-Blackfoot) says this bill will not deny coverage to those who already have jobs.

“There is no such thing as freedom without personal responsibility. Freedom from responsibility is dependency and those who are dependent cannot be free,” Young says.

Democrats who railed against the bill say these restrictions aren’t what people voted for when they passed Proposition 2 last November, withnearly 61 percent voting in favor.

Earlier this week, Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) referred to the bill as “a mangy, rabid, two-headed camel” that was created quickly and without much public input.

“But today, I think we gave that camel fleas,” Rubel says. “It’s totally inappropriate, it’s expensive, it’s heartless, it’s going to create a new gap population.”

Much of the testimony taken on this bill and past versions this year has been against work requirements. But Rep. Bryan Zollinger (R-Idaho Falls) says that would change if Boise wasn’t the capital.

“We would have a different crowd at the Capitol every day and when I go home on the weekends, I do hear from the constituents that want work requirements,” Zollinger says.

During the amendment process, Democrats tried to exempt members of the LGBTQ community from the work requirements, since employers can legally discriminate against them in much of the state.

They also attempted to let the children of those who solely believe in faith healing to get coverage under Medicaid. Both measures failed.

The proposal passed by the House might seem like deja vu for some state senators, who passed the previous version earlier this week. But they only have two options this time: they’ll have to either agree with the House’s changes or kill the bill and start all over again.

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