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Idaho Counties Support Medicaid Expansion

The Idaho Association of Counties voted Wednesday to urge the Legislature to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income families. Credit: Kristine Kisky/Morguefile.
The Idaho Association of Counties voted Wednesday to urge the Legislature to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income families. Credit: Kristine Kisky/Morguefile.
October 1, 2015

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho counties spend millions every year on emergency health care for those who can't afford insurance, so county governments have a stake in getting more residents covered under a health insurance plan.

On Wednesday the Idaho Association of Counties endorsed the Healthy Idaho proposal, which would significantly expand access to Medicaid in the Gem State. One of those who supports the move is Latah County Commissioner Tom Lamar.

"The Healthy Idaho plan will save money for the taxpayers within Idaho, because we're already paying for these medical costs with our property taxes," he says.

The move is being billed as an Idaho alternative to the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion. It would accept federal dollars to close the coverage gap for the 78,000 Idahoans who make too much to qualify for Medicaid – but too little to receive subsidies on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Lamar says it's the right thing to do on multiple levels.

"The Healthy Idaho plan will move us forward so we can cover these people in the gap," he says. "We have to close that gap and make sure people have the opportunity to be covered. And we have a better way to pay these medical bills."

The Idaho Association of Counties will present a policy statement to the state Legislature this fall. The Legislature will be back in session in January.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - ID