- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter says he will not take executive action to expand Medicaid in Idaho after the Legislature adjourned without passing legislation to deal with the problem.

Otter also told reporters on Monday that he would not call Idaho lawmakers back for a special legislative session to address the so-called Medicaid gap population.

Instead, the Republican governor says he is looking forward to working with lawmakers as they study the issue over the next few months. The working group is expected to finalize a solution for the 2017 Legislature.

“This is a problem, and it’s a problem we’re going to continue to struggle with,” Otter said. “Those who would suggest that the Republicans in the Legislature don’t care about those 78,000 are dead wrong. We do care. We just are trying to get a solution and not make false promises.”

An estimated 78,000 Idahoans don’t have health coverage because they either don’t qualify for Medicaid, the health care program designed to cover the poor, or make too much for a subsidy. For years, Idaho lawmakers have acknowledged that the state’s current indigent health care system is flawed, but the Republican supermajority has held off from passing any comprehensive change despite pleas from the Statehouse’s minority Democratic caucus.

Yet a way to address that gap population became a key issue for the 2016 Legislature. Lawmakers listened to hours of testimony from residents caught in the gap while discussing various proposals. Multiple protests were held throughout the Capitol, while health officials warned that people will die if Idaho did nothing to address the gap.

“Hyperbole and horror stories, while they’re useful to a point, I think that the House has heard those,” said House Speaker Scott Bedke, of Oakley. “And you have a firm commitment from the House of Representatives that we want to do something on this issue.”

The working group is tentatively scheduled to begin meeting in May.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide