The Idaho Senate has approved legislation that will increase spending for the Medicaid program in the state during fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, 2013. The vote was 24-10 and the bill now heads to the House for consideration.
“I would like to share some concerns I have with Medicaid,” Sen. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett, said during debate on the bill. “The federal government provides about 70 percent of the funds for Medicaid. Forty-two percent of these funds have their origin in borrowed money. We are actually funding current medical needs in the Medicaid program through encumbering the future labor of our young children and children yet unborn. To me, this is a form of involuntary servitude and violates the spirit of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.” The 13th Amendment outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude.
Thayn also raised questions and cited concerns about government control over who receives health care, and which services people receive. “Do we pay for the young and not the elderly?” he asked. “Do we pay for appendicitis but not for cancer? Do we pay for broken bones but not heart attacks? Medicaid, being funded through taxes, means that the government has to have access to the funds of workers.”
“I’ve heard the concerns,” said Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, as he presented Senate Bill 1190 for consideration by the Senate. “But I believe this bill does what we need it to do.”
Begun in 1965, the Medicaid program provides certain health care services to individuals and families with low incomes and limited resources. Financed with a combination of federal and state tax revenues, the expanding costs of Medicaid have in recent years become a topic of growing concern among the individual states, despite the eligibility of the program being based on a variety of means testing processes.
Despite concerns about the costs of the program, Senate Bill 1190 increases Medicaid spending for fiscal year 2014 by 5.9 percent over the previous year. The increase includes the expenditure of nearly $6 million more in Idaho state and general funds, along with an added $107 million in federal funds.
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