1/14/2018 - Official statement regarding the Trump administration's grant of permission to states to impose "work requirements" on Medicaid recipients
Last week, the Trump administration permitted states to impose “work requirements” on Medicaid recipients. In Kentucky, where lawmakers have swiftly moved to impose new work requirements, it is predicted that up to 100,000 people will lose access to healthcare.
It would be a grave and cruel mistake for Idaho to follow Kentucky’s lead.
Believers in work requirements claim their intention is to move more low-income Americans into the workforce. But healthcare advocates say that work requirements will have the opposite effect: When unemployed people lose access to healthcare, their lives become less financially secure and less stable. As a result, they become less employable.
The administration's move might run afoul of Medicaid law, and will likely be subject to legal challenge by national healthcare advocacy groups. In any case, Idaho lawmakers should move quickly to strengthen our Medicaid program instead of slashing it.
The good news is this: Regardless of what our legislators decide to do, We the People of Idaho will march ahead with our campaign to put Medicaid Expansion on the ballot and give voters a chance to extend quality healthcare to the 78,000 Idahoans who desperately need it.
1/13/2018 - Backers of Idaho Medicaid expansion launch petition drive
BOISE - A group seeking to put Medicaid expansion to a vote in Idaho launched its Boise campaign on Saturday.
Reclaim Idaho will spend the next several weeks working to collect the more than 56,000 signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot for the November 2018 general election.
The text of the initiative is posted on the Idaho Secretary of State’s website, and can be read here.
For the initiative to be included on the November ballot, Idaho law requires that the number of verified signatures be equal to or greater than 6 percent of registered voters in each of at least 18 legislative districts, as well as equal to or greater than 6 percent of the registered voters in the state.
The deadline is four months before Election Day.
“Our goal for today is to get as many volunteers trained as possible, so that they can then go out and recruit more volunteers and train them,” said Sam Sandmire, Ada County co-leader of Medicaid for Idaho.
The state of Idaho opted out of Medicaid expansion under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which would have required the state to provide Medicaid coverage for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, regardless of family status or health. The initiative directs the state to follow those guidelines.
Advocates for expansion say it’s needed to close the “coverage gap” affecting an estimated 78,000 Idahoans whose incomes are too high to qualify for the existing Medicaid program, and too low to receive subsidies for purchasing insurance on the Your Health Idaho exchange.
1/13/2018 - Medicaid expansion on the ballot? Efforts kickoff in Boise
BOISE, Idaho - On Saturday inside the Cathedral of the Rockies in Boise's Northend, nearly 100 people including some state lawmakers showed up to volunteer and collect signatures to get Medicaid expansion on the November ballot. The group called "Medicaid for Idaho" hopes to gather signatures from 6% of registered voters in 18 different districts by the May 1st deadline.
Advocates have been trying for years to get the Idaho legislature to pass Medicaid expansion, but their efforts have always come up short. While all parties agree the Medicaid gap needs to be closed, just how to do it, has republicans and democrats at odds.
"At this point with the affordable health care act being the law and not being repealed," said Democrat Representative John Gannon of Boise. "The question is why not accept the five hundred million dollars in assistance in Washington and help people?"
1/10/2018 - Valley residents push for Medicaid expansion, Statewide campaign finds support in Blaine County
On Friday, hours after Gov. Butch Otter issued an executive order to advance his health care plan, a smaller group met on Leadville Avenue in Ketchum with a different idea in mind
Last week, Reclaim Idaho launched its campaign to get Medicaid expansion on the state ballot this year, a task that will require 56,000 signatures statewide, including 2,000 in Blaine County. At the meeting, the group distributed blank petitions to volunteers to begin collecting signatures.
Their goal: Expand the federal insurance program to fill the so-called Medicaid gap—people who earn too much to receive Medicaid under current statute but too little to receive tax credits through the Affordable Care Act.
1/6/2018 - Grassroots organization hopes to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot this November
BOISE, Idaho - Traveling around in a bright green bus, "Reclaim Idaho" is collecting signatures with the hopes of letting voters, not the Idaho Legislature, decide the future on Medicaid expansion. The program would provide health care for the estimated 78,000 Idahoans who don't qualify for Medicaid or earn too much to receive subsidies. The federal government would pick up 90% of the tab.
"It's basically the people who need it most, and we are ignoring them by not expanding Medicaid," said Sam Sandmire of Reclaim Idaho.
1/5/2018 - Medicaid expansion ballot initiative launches Saturday
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - A new group called Medicaid Expansion for Idaho (MEFI) will launch a ballot initiative Saturday.
Its goal is to close the "medicaid gap," which includes over 50,000 Idahoans who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to receive federal help buying insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange. Although the Idaho Legislature has reviewed the issue for several years, it has yet to take any action.
1/5/2018 - Official press release regarding Governor Otter's healthcare executive order
Governor Otter’s executive order will not extend healthcare to the 78,000 Idahoans who have suffered in the Medicaid Gap. Reclaim Idaho will continue its petition drive to put Medicaid Expansion on the 2018 ballot and give voters a chance to extend healthcare to Idaho’s working families.
12/29/2017 - MEDICAID: EXPANSION MANDATE
Op-Ed by Christopher Matthews. Post Falls, Idaho
Medicaid Expansion is crucial for our state and I believe the only way we can finally get 78,000 Idahoans covered is by getting it on the ballot in 2018.
According to the 2017 Idaho Public Policy Survey, roughly 70 percent of Idahoans favor closing the health care gap and think it’s important for our Legislature to address this issue. While the majority of us want our Legislature to act, they don’t.
FDR once said, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” It’s time for us to exercise our right to participate in our government.
The 15-member work group of Idaho citizens appointed by Governor Otter to research Medicaid Expansion universally supported expanding Medicaid coverage to the working poor. One quote from the report illustrates the economic benefit, “The analysis presented by the IHA shows approximately 16,000 new jobs could be generated by the influx of additional federal dollars from the expansion. These new jobs, along with the multiplier effect of related economic activity, could contribute approximately $615 million in sales, property and income taxes over 10 years.”
If we truly care for our community and if we love our neighbors, we must do all we can to lift them up and give them a fighting chance in Idaho. Let’s do what we can to get this on the ballot.
12/24/2017 - In Red States, Medicaid Expansion Heads To 2018 Ballot Measures
Campaigns to expand Medicaid via ballot initiative are making strides in several Republican-leaning states, including Idaho, Utah and Nebraska following a successful referendum in Maine.
In Idaho, for example, “The Medicaid for Idaho” campaign has had nearly a dozen events leading up to Christmas in hopes of getting the initiative on the November 2018 general election ballot. The campaign says about 78,000 Idaho residents fall into the “Medicaid gap, meaning that they earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford insurance on the state (ACA) health care exchange,” according to Reclaim Idaho, which launched the Medicaid expansion ballot effort.
“Ever since the Maine vote, there are a lot of organizers across the country that are emboldened,” Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville said in an interview. “They noticed something that people in Maine noticed."
Medicaid expansion is “a policy being obstructed by legislators in spite of being broadly popular,” Reclaim Idaho ’s Mayville said. “That’s exactly what the ballot initiative process is designed for.”
12/22/2017 - ‘These are working Idahoans.’ Medicaid for Idaho rallies Sandpoint support in statewide quest
By Lyndsie Kiebert
Sandpoint Reader, Staff Writer
Founders of the political movement Reclaim Idaho spent last weekend in Sandpoint to officially launch their initiative to get Medicaid expansion on the 2018 state ballot.
Through gatherings both in Sandpoint and Hope, Garrett Strizich and Luke Mayville — along with a swath of volunteers — brought awareness to their Medicaid for Idaho campaign.
Strizich and Mayville flashed through Sandpoint before traveling south over this past week, collecting signatures from Wallace to Lewiston and beyond. The group is in Coeur d’Alene Saturday.
Political initiatives in Idaho must gather signatures from six percent of all registered voters statewide and also from six percent of voters in 18 districts. This is somewhere in the ballpark of 56,000 signatures. The tentative deadline to collect all these names, Strizich said, is sometime in April.
And there’s another big number: 78,000. That’s how many Idahoans fall into the “Medicaid gap,” according to the Reclaim Idaho founders.
“These 78,000 people — these are working Idahoans,” Strizich said. “These are people we see everyday while we go about our daily business. These are the people that are going to be helped by this.”
As people streamed in and out of the Sandpoint Community Hall Saturday afternoon, signing petitions and sharing healthcare stories, Strizich addressed a full house.
“And this is going to save money,” Strizich said, noting that the most recent data shows that Bonner General Hospital has already spent $3 million in 2017 from treating uninsured patients — a cost that is ultimately passed on. “We’re already paying for this.”
Hope resident Ellen Lizotte attended the gathering and signed the petition as soon as she arrived.
“I have a deep concern,” she said about the Medicaid gap. “It’s important for me now, and it’s also important for me to strive for better healthcare for my kids.”
Before leading the charge in the Saturday afternoon door-to-door petition quest, Mayville spoke to the Community Hall crowd about how they are pursuing Medicaid expansion in the spirit of a “government for the people” belief. He asked people in the crowd share their personal stories of healthcare woes, then encouraged them to share those stories as they went around asking for signatures in the coming months.
“The most effective thing is if you just go out and tell your story and why you care about this,” Mayville said.
He shared stories of people across the state taking the lead in their counties to gather signatures. He said people both directly and indirectly affected by the Medicaid gap are becoming leaders in their regions.
In Bonner County, that’s Linda Larson. Anyone looking to help gather signatures or spread awareness can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Theresa Renner is also helping mobilize local Medicaid expansion activists, and can be reached at email@example.com.
Cynthia Dalsing, NP of Women’s Healthcare located at 1215 Michigan Street Suite C, has offered to be the Sandpoint business location for Reclaim Idaho. Stop in anytime Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to sign the Medicaid Expansion petition.
12/20/2017 - Team makes Grangeville stop for Medicaid expansion push. 'I believe the fiscally responsible thing to do is to expand Medicaid'
GRANGEVILLE — “I think we have a good start here,” said Luke Mayville.
Mayville, along with friend Garrett Strizich, was in town Dec. 20 to gather support for Medicaid for Idaho. The two founded the group to help bridge the Medicaid gap and are seeking 56,000 signatures on a petition in the state of Idaho.
“That’s 6 percent of the registered voters in the state, which would allow us to place Medicaid expansion on the November 2018 ballot,” Mayville explained. “Our legislators have refused to address expansion for the past four years, so it’s time to put it out to the people to vote on.”
Mayville became especially interested in local and state needs when he and Strizich formed a committee to help pass a school levy in Sandpoint in March of this year.
“Most people in Sandpoint thought the levy vote would fail, because the previous levy had failed by a margin of two to one,” he explained. “But we were able to recruit about 60 volunteers to go door-to-door, and knock on about 3,000 doors in a single weekend. Voter turnout was much higher than usual, and the levy passed by a margin of two to one.”
12/20/2017 - EXPAND MEDICAID PETITION EVENT IS SATURDAY
COEUR d’ALENE — Reclaim Idaho will be collecting signatures to get Medicaid Expansion on the ballot in 2018 during its Medicaid for Idaho campaign kick-off event Saturday in the Coeur d'Alene Public Library.
The organization needs at least 56,000 signatures from supporters in 18 of Idaho's 35 legislative districts. Its members will visit seven districts in seven days during the campaign launch.
"Idaho has the opportunity to join 32 other states in expanding Medicaid and providing access to affordable health care for 78,000 of our neighbors who need it, all while saving taxpayer dollars and improving our local economy," the campaign flyer reads.
Reclaim Idaho describes itself as "a grassroots campaign designed to restore balance to the Idaho State Legislature by electing candidates who believe in strengthening public schools, protecting public lands and extending health care to working families."