Lawmaker panel hears testimony on Medicaid work requirements

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Dozens of people crowded into a Statehouse auditorium Friday morning to testify on a bill that would put strict work requirements on those seeking health care coverage under Idaho's new voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

Nearly all of the testimony given during the first hour of testimony opposed the bill, with critics taking aim at the added administrative costs the bill creates, the difficulty that rural residents could face in finding work training and job opportunities, and the potential that the bill could still leave thousands of Idaho residents without access to health care.

The only testimony in favor of the bill in the first part of the hearing came from Fred Birnbaum, a lobbyist with the Idaho Freedom Foundation who said the work requirements would help rein in the growth of the Medicaid program.

The bill comes from Rep. John Vander Woude, a Republican from Nampa, who says the goal is to help people become less dependent on government programs.

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