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Mothers to Idaho Congressional Delegation: Protect Medicaid

More than 40 percent of children in Idaho rely on Medicaid for health coverage. (Andrew Newill/Flickr)
More than 40 percent of children in Idaho rely on Medicaid for health coverage. (Andrew Newill/Flickr)
May 9, 2018

BOISE, Idaho – Ahead of Mother's Day, mothers and health care advocates are coming together to ask Idaho's congressional delegation to protect Medicaid.

Idahoans are meeting in Boise on Thursday to deliver postcards with this message to Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Rep. Mike Simpson.

Hillarie Hagen, an outreach specialist with Idaho Voices for Children, says 43 percent of Idaho children rely on Medicaid for health coverage. But she says lately, Congress has proposed making cuts to the program or adding burdensome regulations.

"The people most affected by the cuts and by the new regulations really are Idaho and our nation's most vulnerable, which are the kids, seniors, people with disabilities,” she points out. “People have repeatedly spoken in Idaho that they want Medicaid protected. They want people to have access to affordable health coverage."

Hagen says Idaho's congressional delegation has talked about reforming Medicaid, but that reform usually means cuts.

The group will meet in front of Crapo's office at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The group also is asking in-person meetings during Congress' summer recess.

Opponents of Medicaid say it costs too much and is ballooning the federal deficit.

However, support to bring the program to more people in Idaho could be on its way. Last month, the group Reclaim Idaho submitted more than 60,000 signatures for a November ballot initiative to expand Medicaid. The initiative needs 56,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Hagan says the movement to expand Medicaid has grown naturally in recent years.

"This grassroots effort has just sprung up over the last few years and has really been tired of inaction at the Legislature and has decided to take it to the voters and say, 'Hey, people of Idaho. Do you want this? Do you want the health-care coverage gap to be closed?'" Hagan states.

About 78,000 Idahoans fall into the so-called coverage gap because they make too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to qualify for health insurance market subsidies.

Idaho is one of 18 states that has rejected federal funds to expand Medicaid.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID