Idaho's taxpayers could save $380 million over six years by agreeing to expand Medicaid coverage for more low-income people under President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, according an analysis by the Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.
Currently, costs of caring for Idaho's indigent population — often poor, single men with no children who don't currently qualify for Medicaid — are borne by counties and the state as part of Idaho's "Catastrophic Health Care Fund." The total bill is expected to top $60 million next year.
Under Obama's law, Medicaid would be expanded to cover many of those people, with the federal government picking up 100 percent of the tab until 2016. Support is pared gradually to 90 percent after 2020.
Though the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in June, justices ruled states couldn't be punished if they didn't expand their Medicaid programs. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has a committee investigating what Idaho should do, with their recommendations due in a few weeks that are meant to help lawmakers decide what to do.
House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, a conservative Republican who has argued that "Obamacare" is an inappropriate intrusion of government, opposed expanding Medicaid coverage in a guest editorial to Idaho newspapers he penned in July with House Speaker Lawerence Denney.
"Resistance usually comes at a cost, but the state of Idaho must resist Obamacare," they wrote. "The cost of not resisting will be much higher."