Reclaim Idaho Turns In 60,000 Signatures To Try And Expand Medicaid Access

Apr 30, 2018

Backers of a ballot initiative to force Idaho to expand Medicaid eligibility to low income individuals say they’ve turned in enough signatures to put the question to voters, though they still need to be validated.

Right now, up to 62,000 Idahoans earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to get a federal health insurance subsidy.

Reclaim Idaho, the group behind the ballot initiative, is trying to close that gap by letting voters decide whether to expand Medicaid eligibility to include those folks.

They say they’re handing over more than 60,000 signatures to county clerks across the state in order to validate them. If they meet the threshold, the question will be put to voters this November.

Even if it’s approved, it could face a tough road. Congressman Raul Labrador, who’s running for governor, says he might defy a mandate from voters and block any expansion if he’s elected.

Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist hasn’t directly said whether he’d ignore the results of such an initiative if elected governor, while Lt. Gov. Brad Little says he’d stand by the will of the voters.

Just today, activists sued Maine Gov. Paul LePage for refusing to expand Medicaid after 59 percent of voters there backed the measure last year.

If Reclaim Idaho's petitions are validated, it'll be the first ballot initiative to go before voters since state legislators made it more difficult for them to qualify under state law in 2013.

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

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio