No Stop in Push to Close Coverage Gap in Idaho
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
ALBION, Idaho – Seventy-eight thousand Idahoans are still waiting for affordable health insurance. If Idaho "closed the gap" and accepted federal Medicaid funding, Gem State residents would be able to purchase coverage. It's a move a governor's task force has recommended, but the Legislature hasn't taken it up.
Danielle Ryals and her husband in Albion are two of the 78,000. She recently testified before Governor Otter during his Capital for a Day visit in her community.
"The one thing that I wanted him to understand was that we are still hard working," she says. "We are not looking for a handout, we are just looking for a little bit of help so that we can live healthy for our children, so that they can live healthy."
Ryals says they have had to borrow money from friends to pay for prescriptions. Her husband has high blood pressure, and recently broke a finger – but the couple couldn't afford medical care.
Resistance in the Legislature to accepting federal money ranges from distrust that the funding will be stable, to general objections to the Affordable Care Act.
Lee Flinn, policy director at the Idaho Primary Care Association, says nearly half of patients at some health care centers fall into the coverage gap.
"They're your friends, they're your neighbors, perhaps relatives," she says. "These are hard-working Idahoans that don't qualify for Medicaid health care, and they earn too little to get assistance for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace."
A proposal called the Healthy Idaho Plan would allow the state to accept the federal funding to open Medicaid coverage, as well as phase out indigent care programs that are funded by property taxpayers.
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