Idaho Prop 2: Providing Health Care to Low-Income Idahoans

After defeating TrumpCare, Indivisibles across the country have continued fighting to protect and expand access to health care—from Maine’s Medicaid expansion and Oregon’s Medicaid protection ballot initiatives in 2017 and early this year, to Virginians’ successful battle to expand Medicaid in their legislature this past spring. Now, Idahoans have the opportunity to expand Medicaid and bring health care to 62,000 Idahoans by voting YES on Prop 2 on November 6, 2018.

Tens of Thousands of Idahoans Lack Health Care

62,000 Idahoans lack health insurance because the state hasn’t expanded Medicaid. Idaho is one of 17 states that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, even though 75% of its residents support providing quality health care to low-income Idahoans. Expanding Medicaid would allow individuals with incomes of up to 133% of the federal poverty level (under $17,000 for an individual or under $29,000 for a family of 3) to receive health insurance through the Medicaid program. 62,000 of these currently uncovered individuals live right on or just above the poverty line and are in the “coverage gap”—meaning that they are not currently eligible for Medicaid in Idaho, but are also ineligible for premium subsidies. Expanding Medicaid would give these people access to quality health care for the first time.

62,000 Idahoans lack health insurance because the state hasn’t expanded Medicaid

Not only would expanding Medicaid give Idahoans health insurance, but not expanding Medicaid, is actually leaving federal dollars on the table: Idaho would forfeit $3.3 billion over ten years by not expanding Medicaid.

Past Attempts to Expand Medicaid in Idaho

Idaho has been trying (and failing) to expand Medicaid for years. In 2016, the Idaho Senate passed a proposal to expand Medicaid that was killed by Republicans in the Idaho House of Representatives. The House Speaker, Scott Bedke, then called for a special bipartisan committee to contemplate the issue but neither the committee nor the legislature has advanced a proposal to expand Medicaid since then. Legislation introduced in 2018 that would have expanded Medicaid was not even voted out of committee.

Due to the legislature’s neglect of this issue, Idahoans have taken matters into their own hands, and worked hard to place the question of Medicaid expansion before the voters this November.

A Strong Local Coalition Is Fighting for Health Care

In December of 2017, the grassroots group Reclaim Idaho painted an RV bright green, emblazoned the words RECLAIM IDAHO on the side of it, and drove across the state talking to Idahoans about Medicaid expansion and collecting signatures for Prop 2, the ballot measure that would expand Medicaid access in Idaho. Then in June, Reclaim Idaho, the Idaho Medical Association, Idaho Voices for Children, the Fairness Project, and other partners launched the Idahoans for Healthcare coalition to build voter power and win this ballot fight. These groups aren’t waiting any more for the state legislature to act – they’re using their power to create real change for their fellow Idahoans.

While passing the ACA in the first place was a historic Democratic achievement, the issue of bringing health care to Idahoans is a bipartisan one—Republican member of the Idaho House of Representatives Christy Perry is co-chair of the Idahoans for Healthcare campaign along with Reclaim Idaho founder Emily Strizich. Recently a number of other Republican legislators, including House Health and Welfare committee chair Fred Wood, have endorsed the initiative.

What Prop 2 Proposes to Do

Prop 2 will direct Idaho to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, meaning new eligibility for adults under the age of 65 who make up to 133% of the federal poverty level (less than $17,000 for an individual or less than $29,000 for a family of 3) and who are not eligible for other state insurance coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pay for 90% of the cost of expansion in 2020 and beyond.

To find your local Indivisible group, visit https://indivisible.org/groups.

Sign up here to volunteer with Idahoans for Healthcare coalition and get out the vote for Proposition 2!

Expanding Medicaid Is a Health Justice Issue

We can only begin to reduce racial disparities in health outcomes if marginalized populations have access to quality, affordable health care. African-American, Latinx, and Indigenous communities are disproportionately impacted by any state’s refusal to expand Medicaid. Across all states that have not expanded Medicaid, 53% of those living in the coverage gap are people of color. In Idaho in 2014, the uninsured rate for whites was 15.6% while African-Americans were uninsured at a rate of 24.2% and Hispanics at a rate of 43.3%. Almost all states that have expanded Medicaid have a lower uninsured rate for communities of color than those who have not. On our quest toward health equity, Medicaid expansion is an absolutely critical first step.

What You Can Do

Local Indivisibles have joined with Idahoans for Healthcare and other health care advocates across Idaho to support Prop 2.

To find your local Indivisible group, visit https://indivisible.org/groups.

Sign up here to volunteer with Idahoans for Healthcare coalition and get out the vote for Proposal 2!

Additional Resources