Guest Opinions

Idaho Democrats look to fill Medicaid gap with more government

Life is simple for Democrats. They distort markets. Mandate programs. Then when problems arise, as inevitably they do, like magic the only solution is more government, more regulation, more taxes and less coverage.

For those keeping track, in 2010 Democrats were in control of both the White House and Congress when they passed a closed-door version of the massive Affordable Care Act — better known as Obamacare — accompanied by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s infamous declaration “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” And when we finally did see what was in it, we found about $500 billion in tax increases.

Another thing “in it” was regulation setting terms for who would be covered by Obamacare subsidies. The floor for that coverage was set above current Medicaid levels, leaving the gap in coverage.

Fast forward to 2016, Idaho Republicans are attacked for not expanding Medicaid to fill this gap created by Democrats.

And when it comes to advocating for more government, you can rest assured Democrats will use human suffering to advance their ideology, portray opponents as monsters, and — you guessed it — call for more government.

That process was on full display in Boise last week when Idaho Democrats trotted out a doctor to use the tragic story of one of his patients to call Idaho Republicans murderers. His prescription? Expand Medicaid. Grow government.

Idahoans, however, live in the real world where a whole host of unhappy Affordable Care Act consequences are an unwelcome addition to our everyday lives. Our premiums and deductibles are higher. Our available doctors and services are fewer. We often pay north of $10,000 a year for the “privilege” of paying cash for all medical expenses our families incur.

Republicans believe in personal responsibility. We believe in strengthening and empowering self-reliant families, faith communities, private enterprises and private charities. When problems arise, as inevitably they do, Republicans believe in exhausting each of these avenues before turning to government as a last resort. While Idaho Republicans explore real and alternative solutions to problems, the only option Democrats offer is their one-trick pony — more government.

The only gap that Democrats have any real interest in closing is the role that private institutions might play between citizens and government. But the gap most of us need addressed is the distance between the insurance coverage and income we used to enjoy versus the services and resources lost to our families because of the Democrats’ failed health care policies.

Most Idahoans recognize that Democrats created this health insurance coverage gap and that the 2016 presidential election is by far the most important means to undue the damage done by the misnamed Affordable Care Act.

As responsible legislators in Idaho grapple with how to respond in the meantime, the adage “first do no harm” comes to mind. The question is not whether to expand Medicaid in order to close a gap that government created. The big-government prescription of Medicaid plus the Affordable Care Act is already injuring the health of our families, businesses and charities. This is no time to double the dosage.

Steve Yates is the chairman of the Idaho Republican Party.

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