If you are one of the 78,000 Idahoans living without affordable options for health insurance — or you are somebody who is advocating for them — you may want to make plans to attend meetings of an interim committee studying the matter, which convenes for the first time Wednesday.
The “Healthcare Alternatives For Citizens Below 100 Percent of Poverty Level” committee made up of Idaho House and Senate representatives, will meet 9 a.m. Wednesday in room WW17 at the Idaho Statehouse. A live audio stream of the proceedings will be available by Idaho Public Television at legislature.idaho.gov.
When the Legislature adjourned in April there was a disappointing ending to efforts to bring health care options for people who don’t make enough money to get covered through the Your Health Idaho exchange — or make too much to be covered under Medicaid. People in this situation are said to be “in the coverage gap.”
Following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act across the country in 2012-2013, the states had an option to expand Medicaid to cover this population. Though Idaho elected to create its own health insurance exchange, it so far has not opted to expand Medicaid — even though two separate task forces groups in recent years came to that very conclusion.
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This committee is charged with considering coverage alternatives for the people in the gap. It is co-chaired by Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, and Rep. Thomas Loertscher, R-Iona. Other members include Republicans Sen. Patti Anne Lodge of Huston, Sen. Steven Thayn, Emmett, Sen. Jim Guthrie, Inkom, and Democrat Sen. Maryanne Jordan, Boise. Other House members include Republicans Rep. Fred Wood, Burley, Rep. Judy Boyle, Midvale, Rep. John Vander Woude, Nampa, and Democrat Sue Chew, Boise.
The agenda Wednesday calls for the group to review 2016 legislation and previous recommendations from the two task force groups that were commissioned by Gov. Butch Otter — and then discuss a path forward.