By Rep. Bryan Zollinger & Idaho Freedom Foundation Vice President Fred Birnbaum
Supporters of Proposition 2, the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, are hiding their financial motives. They want the public to believe that they speak for those who can’t afford health care coverage, while neglecting to mention that the initiative’s backers stand to gain financially.
Let’s start from the beginning. Despite what you may have heard, the “grassroots” organization that put Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion on the ballot received more than $500,000 in funding from The Fairness Project, a D.C.-based liberal interest group. That is not Idaho grassroots. The Fairness Project hired Fieldworks LLC, at more than $400,000, to pay professional foot soldiers in Idaho to gather signatures to put Obamacare expansion on the ballot. These facts can be verified on the Idaho secretary of state’s website under “Campaign Finance, Disclosure Reports.”
The Fairness Project was founded in 2015 with a $5 million grant from United Healthcare Workers West in California. This group is part of the Service Employees International Union, which has broad aims to push its radical liberal agenda in many states.
The Fairness Project has used the California labor union money to put Obamacare expansion measures on the ballot in Utah, Nebraska, and Idaho, and an expansion extension in Montana.
But back to Idaho.
According to a recent financial disclosure report, Idahoans for Healthcare, the group promoting expansion with a slick media campaign, has raised more than $500,000. This half million includes $150,000 from the Idaho Hospital Association, $49,000 from the Idaho Medical Association, and $30,000 from the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry’s Prosperity Fund. What do these parties get in return?
Look at Idaho's current Medicaid budget for an idea of how the above groups will financially benefit. The Gem State’s Department of Health and Welfare makes annual payments to Idaho’s Medicaid providers, who are members of the Idaho Hospital and Medical Association, in excess of $2 billion. Medicaid expansion would add at least another $500 million in annual payments to providers once fully implemented.
What is also bothersome: The groups behind Idahoans for Healthcare cloak themselves in concern for low-income people who can’t afford health insurance. Well, wasn’t Obamacare called the Affordable Care Act because it was supposed to lower healthcare costs for the average American family? Because that hasn’t happened, we are now told that the solution is more government healthcare in the form an entitlement for those who get priced out of “affordable” policies.
Any way you look at it, Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is one of the best “business” investments around. Prop 2 supporters spend $500,000 or so in year one to fund the ballot measure; in return, should it pass, they get a revenue stream of 1,000 times that in perpetuity—funded largely with borrowed federal money. That’s a tough sell when the nation carries more than $21 trillion in debt.
There are many reasons to reject Prop. 2’s Obamacare expansion: It would discourage work among the able-bodied; it would take money away from classrooms, road repairs, and other state priorities; it would take a program for the most vulnerable and extend it to able-bodied adults; and, it would likely cost far more than projected.
Let’s add another reason to reject Prop. 2: The ballot measure is a classic example of crony business practices. Organizations that will benefit from government spending are essentially lobbying Idahoans for even more government spending, while cloaking themselves in concern for the less fortunate.