Elections

Gov. Otter endorses Medicaid expansion, calling it an ‘Idaho-grown solution’

Idaho’s health insurance coverage gap

A legislative working group convened in 2016 for a day-long meeting on Idaho's "Medicaid gap" - people who do not qualify for Medicaid, but also do not make enough money for assistance through the state health insurance exchange.
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A legislative working group convened in 2016 for a day-long meeting on Idaho's "Medicaid gap" - people who do not qualify for Medicaid, but also do not make enough money for assistance through the state health insurance exchange.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter on Tuesday endorsed Proposition 2, the effort to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot will decide whether to allow more Idahoans on Medicaid, including those in the so-called “Medicaid gap” who also don’t qualify for subsidies on the state health insurance exchange.

“Allowing the healthcare coverage gap to persist any longer is not an option,” said Otter in a news release from Idahoans for Healthcare. “We cannot continue to let hardworking Idahoans go without healthcare. I’m proud that the citizens of Idaho have come up with a solution to solve this long-standing problem. Proposition 2 will provide healthcare to 62,000 Idahoans and it’ll bring $400 million of our tax dollars back to Idaho. In addition, Proposition 2 will keep our rural hospitals and county clinics open. I strongly support expanding healthcare to folks who need it. It’s good sense and it’s the right thing to do.”

Idahoans for Healthcare has steadily announced endorsements for the vote, including food manufacturers Chobani and Clif Bar last week.

Medicaid expansion backers turned to a ballot initiative after years of failing to get some sort of health insurance overhaul through the Legislature. Late last month, 21 lawmakers and eight other legislative candidates urged voters to reject expansion, repeating fears that the federal government won’t be able to maintain its part of the funding and that paying for the measure could take money from other parts of the state budget.

“Proposition 2’s Obamacare expansion is unsustainable, fiscally irresponsible, and wrong for Idaho,” said Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, in a news release.

Otter has previously supported various alternate proposals to Medicaid expansion — “an Idaho solution,” as he described one such effort in 2016.

He and his wife, Lori Otter, are now both seen in the latest advertisement supporting Proposition 2. In the ad, Butch Otter calls it “an Idaho-grown solution,” while Lori Otter says it would “help our rural hospitals, boost our economy, and create jobs.”

Otter has also appeared in advertisements supporting Proposition 1, on historical horse racing machines, which he endorsed earlier this month.

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