Medicaid Expansion Costs in Idaho
In this November’s election, we have an important initiative on the ballot: Proposition Two, advocating for Medicaid expansion in Idaho.
What does this Proposition call for? It expands the existing Medicaid program to 100% taxpayer-funded “free” medical care to healthy able-bodied adults up to age 65 whose income is 133% of the federal poverty level or below and who are not eligible for other state insurance coverage. Medicaid does not include a work requirement, thus, Medicaid benefits would lessen the incentive to get a job that offers medical insurance. So it’s no surprise that more than half of the 12 million able-bodied adults so far added to Medicaid expansion in the 33 states where it is in place are not working. In Idaho, based on current estimates, it would put between 62,000 to 78,000 individuals on its rolls. Medicaid is a slippery slope to BIG Government, nanny-care.
Medicaid expansion was a cornerstone of Obamacare that was struck down by the Supreme Court six years ago as coercive and, in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts, “a gun to the head” of states. Roberts admonished states not to cave so quickly to federal demands, writing “The States are separate and independent sovereigns. Sometimes they have to act like it.”
Most red states decided to act like it, Idaho among them. In his 2013 State of the State address Governor Otter said Idaho would not expand Medicaid, and the Legislature has not brought it to the floor.
Medicaid expansion proponents decided to force the issue by collecting the necessary 56,192 signatures to put it on the ballot as Proposition Two. Professional signature gatherers partnered with some Idahoans under the name “Reclaim Idaho.” Funding for Reclaim Idaho is provided by The Fairness Project out of Washington, D.C., which has paid $500,000-plus to professional signature gatherers, thus hardly an Idaho-originated campaign.
The Fairness Project, by the way, is an organization with ties to the scandal-ridden SEIU, and has spent close to $5 million in five states over the past year for similar ballot-initiative campaigns.
How would Medicaid expansion affect Idaho? It is safe to say that it would cause more economic harm than good. Here are some facts:
States that have adopted it have wildly underestimated its costs because, on average, enrollments were more than double what was first estimated.
Bloated Medicaid expansion rolls affect states’ budgets by taking funding away from education, infrastructure, and other budget priorities. In Idaho, our Constitution requires a balanced budget. Medicaid expansion will severely dig into the finite amount of dollars available.
Even though the federal government will fund 90% of Medicaid expansion costs in 2020, it is noteworthy that this is a drop from its initial 100% funding that has steadily dwindled since 2016, and there is no guarantee for how much the federal government will pay after 2020. It’s more likely than not that Medicaid will become an unfunded mandate, given our $21 trillion federal debt and the ever-expanding Medicaid costs and shrinking federal dollars in other Medicaid states. Without doubt, federal dollars mean federal control.
Victoria Zeischegg, Chairman
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