Guest Opinions

Paulette Jordan: As governor, I’d support the potential Medicaid expansion in Idaho

The Idaho Statesman asked the candidates in major statewide races to submit guest opinions explaining their stances and why they should earn your vote. Their columns have run throughout this week. Read opponent Brad Little’s guest opinion here.

Like many Idahoans, on Nov. 6, I expect to celebrate the passage of Proposition 2 to expand Medicaid to our 62,000 neighbors who reside “in the gap.” But I also realize that supporting Proposition 2 at the ballot box is just the first step to ensure people are covered not only for catastrophic health events but for preventative medical care too. We know early treatment both shortens the road to recovery and saves money.

But make no mistake, for Proposition 2 to do what voters intend, Idaho’s next governor must wholeheartedly push for fully funding expansion while vetoing attempts by the legislature not to. As governor, I’ll hold the legislature accountable if it tries to undercut the will of the people by underfunding Proposition 2.

What happened in Maine last year should not happen in Idaho. There, the voters overwhelmingly supported a Proposition 2-like measure, but the governor has not funded it and has been held up in the courts. The lesson is clear: passing Proposition 2 alone won’t ensure coverage of those in the gap. We must also elect leaders who act on and support the will of the people by funding it.

Campaigning across Idaho, I’ve heard countless times from people who worked, had insurance, paid their taxes, raised their kids and “did everything right.” Suddenly, they were struck by an illness or accident that led to losing their jobs, their insurance, their savings and, too often, their dignity. These are our neighbors, coworkers, kids and our parents. These are working people who did everything right and lost it all. I support Proposition 2 because Idahoans don’t turn our backs when one of us is down. Yet for too long, that’s exactly what our governor and legislature have done. We can do better.

Basic compassion alone is reason to support Proposition 2, but money matters too. By contributing $40 million dollars — far less than counties and the state now pay to cover catastrophic care for fewer than 62,000 of the uninsured — the feds will send back $400 million dollars of our tax dollars to cover them all for preventive and catastrophic care.

This money will also infuse our rural economies and help make sure that our small critical care hospitals remain open and that they can attract and retain medical professionals.

I hope you’ll learn more about Proposition 2, and I hope you’ll support it and me on Nov. 6 so that we can save money and, more importantly, lives.

Democrat Paulette Jordan, a former Idaho lawmaker and former Coeur d’Alene Tribe council member, is running for Idaho governor.

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