The top Democrat in the Idaho House, John Rusche of Lewiston, criticized Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch's stance against federal health care reform.
Risch spoke on the Senate floor Monday against plans in the reform package to expand Medicaid, which uses both state and federal money to fund health insurance to people with low-income. Risch said expanding Medicaid would lead to higher taxes.
Risch called the Medicaid expansion a "raid on the states." "There is no way the states can deal with this except with massive tax increases or massive cuts in education," Risch said.
Rusche wrote Thursday in an editorial printed in some newspapers that expanding Medicaid won't hurt the bottom line of the Idaho budget. "The Medicaid changes of the current Senate bill appear beneficial to the state of Idaho in spite of what Sen. Risch may believe," Rusche wrote.
In his editorial, Rusche claimed the Medicaid expansion could save Idaho taxpayers $13 million. That savings assumes the federal government will continue to cover a larger percentage of Idaho's Medicaid bill, and that local and state spending for uninsured hospital visits will drop as more Idahoan get health insurance.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the health reform package by the end of the year. Risch and Sen. Mike Crapo oppose the reforms being put forth by Democrats in Congress. A poll released Thursday by the Idaho Statesman showed 56% of Idahoans are against the reforms.
For more, read Risch's press release on his comments on the Senate floor on changes to Medicaid and Rusche's editorial at the Idaho Democratic Party's website.
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