Medicaid Expansion, the Idaho Way

After months of work, debate, and listening to our constituents, we found an Idaho Way Forward on Medicaid expansion. It started on Thursday with a very involved amending process on Senate Bill 1204aa,aaH. We maintained the work requirements, which have huge public support. Then, we got to work improving them, by creating some of the most compassionate work requirements in the nation:

  • Clients will report every six months, rather than weekly
  • Those from 100 to 138 percent of poverty can choose to stay on the state exchange, rather than go on expanded Medicaid
  • No lockout period, once people prove they’re working 20 hours a week, they get their coverage back immediately

The bill then headed back to the Senate, where they passed it, sending it to the Governor’s desk.
This helps the financial independence of every Idahoan. The legislation also ensures the federal government pays their fair share, saves valuable taxpayer dollars, and focuses on patient-centered managed care.

Recommitting to a Better Referendum Process

We are recommitting to creating a better referendum process, after Governor Brad Little vetoed Senate Bill 1159 and promised to veto House Bill 296. The Governor cited likely legal challenges that would put the initiative process in the hands of a single federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Though I’m disappointed that Governor Brad Little chose to veto SB 1159 today, House Republicans look forward to working with the Governor on future legislation that protects Idaho’s processes from out-of-state special interest groups,” responded Caucus Chairman, Rep. Megan Blanksma. “I agree with the Governor that we must control the rules of our initiative process and keep it out of the hands of the liberal Ninth Circuit Court. I also agree that we cannot become like California, where their liberal initiative processes hamstring their government, resulting in excessive regulation and conflicting laws. Hopefully we can develop new legislation that will ensure that Idaho will avoid such a fate.”

 

Setting the Record Straight

We set the record straight after former Treasurer Ron Crane falsely claimed the legislature doctored documents regarding an expansion of House offices into the current home of the Treasurer’s Office.

“We were shocked to see these allegations in the paper this weekend, they are absolutely ridiculous. We have all the original documents from his budget request of more than $3.5 million to the House of Representatives and the Idaho Division of Financial Management (DFM). The numbers are there but it appears that when the budget was transferred to the Legislative Services Office their template was used, and Ron’s opinions were shortened, his intent was never altered nor was his financial request,” said Speaker Scott Bedke.

We never said Crane supported the move, and his hesitation is clearly on the record in all the LSO documents. The House Caucus has been transparent in providing details of an understanding that took place more than a decade ago.

Funding Transportation

We are getting more money into roadwork around the state. We amended and unanimously passed Senate Bill 1126 on Tuesday. It will make some major changes to the “surplus eliminator.” As House Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. Joe Palmer said, we’re “Making an endowment-style fund to fund transportation.” That now heads back to the Senate.
We also passed Senate Bill 1065 on the same day. This legislation will let another state road fund issue bonds to help pay for projects. That now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.