It’s interesting that some legislators are intrigued by Dr. Ted Epperly’s suggestion that Idaho voters be asked to approve expansion of Medicaid. Frustrated by the Legislature’s unwillingness to act on the matter, Epperly, a member of the governor’s task force on the topic of Medicaid in Idaho, said at a recent meeting of the panel, “Perhaps we need a statewide initiative, and we’ll take this directly to the people of the state of Idaho.”
I wouldn’t be shocked to see Big Medicine move forward with such a plan to convince Idaho voters that Medicaid expansion is the right thing to do. After all, they’re viewing it as a business decision which, supposedly, would bring them as much as $1 billion over 10 years. And, they’re likely aware of the fact that it doesn’t cost much to buy radio, TV or petition signature gatherers. Therefore, the threat is very real.
What’s curious to me is how lawmakers can simultaneously oppose Medicaid expansion but also support it. In our articles on IdahoReporter.com, legislators seem almost hopeful Big Medicine will spare them the debate. It won’t.
Bad policy is bad policy, regardless of whether it comes from via initiative or legislative act. Therefore, assuming the initiative passes in 2016 (the earliest the issue can appear on the ballot), legislators will still have to deal with the decision in 2017.
In the current budget year, our state’s dependence on the federal government will be almost 36 percent of the total Idaho budget. Expanding Medicaid would exacerbate our dependency on Washington, D.C., regardless of whether lawmakers or the electorate authorize it.
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