Medicaid Expansion Supporters Work To Sway Idaho Lawmakers

Feb 5, 2015

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Medicaid expansion supporters began their uphill journey Thursday in attempting to win over Idaho's Republican-controlled Statehouse where most lawmakers consider the idea politically toxic.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong tells the House and Senate Health and Welfare Committees that Idaho could save more than $173 million over the next 10 years by loosening its Medicaid eligibility.

Armstrong outlined a plan backed by a governor's work group that would allow individuals below 100 percent of the poverty line to qualify for Medicaid coverage. It includes an opt-out clause in case the federal government alters its funding in the future.

Republican lawmakers have been hesitant to discuss Medicaid expansion, an option provided under the Affordable Care Act, but recognize the state's indigent care system is broken.