Understanding Healthcare: Governor Otter Says ‘no’ to Medicaid Expansion

Understanding Healthcare: Governor Otter Says ‘no’ to Medicaid Expansion

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MCT Campus News Wire

Late in June of last year the Supreme Court largely upheld President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with the exception of Medicaid expansion.

Instead, the Supreme Court made the expansion of Medicaid optional for each
individual state.

During the State of the State Address on Monday, Jan. 7, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter declared Idaho would not expand Medicaid for now, against the unanimous recommendation from his 15 member Medicaid expansion working group.

“There’s a lot more work to do, and we face no immediate federal deadline,” Gov.
Otter said.

However, the choice to expand Medicaid will largely rest with the legislature and  while he did elect not to expand Medicaid as of this time, Gov. Otter did acknowledge a flawed system and suggested Idaho would alter its current Medicaid system in
the future.

“I hope to return in 2014 with specific proposals based on that work, and I encourage all Idahoans to get involved with this process,” Gov. Otter said.

Medicaid, a health insurance program implemented in 1965, is the nation’s largest provider of health insurance for eligible, low-income individuals and families.

Children under age 19, parents or legal guardians of children under age 19, pregnant women, women diagnosed with breast, cervical or pre-cancer, blind and disabled persons, and people over age 65 are eligible currently eligible for enrollment in the Medicaid program in Idaho.

Other criteria, including income, citizenship, and work status, are also determining factors. If a single family’s income is too high to be eligible for Medicaid, children may still be eligible for State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP).

Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid would be expanded to cover individuals between ages 19 and 65 with no children, deductions from certain groups, and a simplified expansion process; under the current system, individuals between 19 and 65 without children are not eligible for Medicaid. However, since Idaho isn’t expanding its Medicaid program at this time, none of these proposed changes will be implemented.

The federal government would allocate up to 90 percent of the funds necessary to expand Medicaid to each state. This would alleviate the financial burden for any state which completely complied with the Affordable Care Act’s proposed expansion plan. Idaho, being one of the ten states that did not participate in the expansion, will not receive federal funding.

However, the question remains: where would the federal government get the funds to support Medicaid expansion across the country.