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Local Candidates Weigh In on Medicaid Expansion

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By Aimee Burnett

Twin Falls, Idaho (KMVT-TV) A workgroup, developed by Governor Otter, is considering three options for Medicaid expansion here in Idaho.

The 15–member group is weighing the advantages and liabilities associated with expanding Medicaid to adults as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Last June the U.S. Supreme Court decided states could further expand Medicaid beyond the mandatory changes already laid out in the ACA.

"It's my understanding that it would extend at least basic medical services to over 100,000 Idaho residents that are not currently covered by any medical program, 10,000 of those individuals are in the Magic Valley," said Scott McClure, Dist. 25 Senate Candidate.

"But, what you got to understand is where is the money coming from? And, how is it paid for? Just because it comes from the federal government doesn't mean it's free," said Rep. Jim Patrick, Dist. 25 Senate Candidate.

The governor's group is looking at three possible options:

1. do not expand Medicaid
2. do not expand Medicaid, but redesign the county indigent and state catastrophic healthcare programs
3. expand Medicaid.

McClure sees the expansion as a good thing.

"It's my understanding that the projection is that if we except the Medicaid extension it will save the state of Idaho $380 million over the next six years," said McClure.

Patrick would like to see a full analysis on true costs before a decision is made.

"For example, if we save money in the CAT fund, if we save money in the prisons, the healthcare we give in prisons, maybe some other places that cuts back a little bit on the total costs," said Rep. Patrick.

Lawmakers have projected the number of people eligible for Medicaid by 2016 will nearly double in Idaho, jumping from 262,000 to 414,000.

The next workgroup meeting is set for this Tuesday, October 23rd.




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