Implications of Medicaid Expansion Restrictions
Posted On: Mar 31, 2019

One of the most pressing issues of the 2019 legislative session has been Medicaid. The impacts of the high costs of private healthcare are felt by many in the state and it seems that everyone knows someone in the gap or is in the gap themself.

Perhaps the most prominent bill currently being brought forward was written by Nampa Representative John Vander Woude. House Bill 277 is the second iteration of requirements put forward by Representative Vander Woude and proposes work requirements that would be almost impossible to meet. Currently, House bill 277 appears to be modeled after the work requirements enforced in Arkansas. After research, it is clear that these work requirements create a complicated system of paperwork are almost impossible to report accurately. This has caused citizens to lose their coverage even if they are meeting the requirements. For many people with serious mental or physical health conditions, their ability to get and maintain a job is heavily impacted. After someone has received treatment, however, it becomes significantly easier to work, but putting work requirements on Medicaid is not the way to implement an effective expansion. In fact it has been brought up time and time again that these requirements would create a second gap by only covering the few that can meet the requirements. Between testimonies and research, it has become evident that filing the paperwork and recording information can be one of the hardest parts. People that need health coverage are required to spend hours filling out complicated forms and the inability to do so results in a loss of coverage. Adding 20 hour a week work requirements makes it harder for those needing Medicaid coverage and creates an additional burden to the taxpayer. Furthemore, by creating a second gap, House Bill 277 continues to put pressure on the rural hospitals and communities that a clean Medicaid implementation would have supported.

Although the bill passed the House 45-22, my colleagues and I are doing what we can to implement the Medicaid expansion the way voters intended. On Wednesday, Senators voted to hold HB277 in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Although we don’t expect HB277 to reemerge, the Senate is rushing to amend and pass another bill regarding Medicaid expansion. Senate Bill 1204 has been sent to the amending order and it is expected that the body will address the proposed legislation early next week.