NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

Idaho overwhelmingly votes to expand Medicaid; Proposition #2 Yes vote tops 60%!

Vot­ers in Ida­ho are giv­ing a big thumbs up to a bal­lot mea­sure to expand Med­ic­aid across the Gem State to cov­er low income adults and peo­ple with­out children.

With 747 of 959 precincts report­ing, the bipar­ti­san coali­tion spon­sor­ing Propo­si­tion #2 had the sup­port of 61.4% of Ida­hoans, with only 38.6% opposed.

The Gem State’s Repub­li­can dom­i­nat­ed Leg­is­la­ture has for years stub­born­ly refused to expand Med­ic­aid on ide­o­log­i­cal grounds, despite pleas to do so from the state’s med­ical and health ser­vices com­mu­ni­ty. So a group of Democ­rats and rea­son­able Repub­li­cans teamed up to take their case direct­ly to the people.

And they found a very respon­sive elec­torate.

As the ear­ly results came in favor­ing expan­sion, Toni Law­son of the Ida­ho Hos­pi­tal Asso­ci­a­tion said, “It’s been a long time com­ing now.”

Med­ic­aid was on the bal­lot in a few oth­er states Tues­day night, but Idaho’s sit­u­a­tion is unique, she not­ed. Ida­ho already has a tax-fund­ed sys­tem to pay for cat­a­stroph­ic health care on behalf of poor Ida­hoans and could use that mon­ey instead to pay for Medicaid.

“The fund­ing is there, we just need to allo­cate it in the appro­pri­ate man­ner,” she said.

Rur­al hos­pi­tals say Med­ic­aid expan­sion would help them sur­vive, as their peers around the coun­try have been forced to close.

Incom­ing Ida­ho Gov­er­nor Brad Lit­tle did not take a posi­tion on Propo­si­tion #2, but has said he will imple­ment Med­ic­aid expan­sion were the mea­sure to pass (and it has). Out­go­ing Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Butch Otter, mean­while, gave Propo­si­tion #2 an enthu­si­as­tic endorse­ment and urged a yes vote on the measure.

Ida­ho’s Leg­is­la­ture still has to appro­pri­ate the mon­ey to ensure that Med­ic­aid expan­sion hap­pens. But giv­en the over­whelm­ing pas­sage of Propo­si­tion #2 and Gov­er­nor-elect Lit­tle’s pledge to imple­ment the will of the vot­ers, it’s rea­son­able to assume that it won’t be much longer before access to health­care gets bet­ter for many of Ida­ho’s least afflu­ent res­i­dents. That’s a huge win.

Months ago, we took a posi­tion in strong sup­port of Ida­ho Propo­si­tion #2. We’re absolute­ly delight­ed to see it pass­ing by such a large margin.

We’ve always believed here at NPI that progress is pos­si­ble even in the red­dest of places. Even con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ers have the capa­bil­i­ty to rea­son using the log­ic of pro­gres­sive val­ues. We sim­ply have to give them oppor­tu­ni­ties to choose a pro­gres­sive path. We are thank­ful that so many in Ida­ho saw the wis­dom of expand­ing Med­ic­aid and tak­ing bet­ter care of one anoth­er. Not only is it the just and moral thing to do, but it is also the fis­cal­ly respon­si­ble thing to do.

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