BOISE -- Members of the group "Idaho Health care for All" will hold a meeting Wednesday evening to promote Medicaid expansion and discuss its potential impacts to Idahoans.
State Medicaid expansion is linked to the Affordable Care Act, which was passed into law in 2010. However, the expansion was not passed at the federal level, and must be individually ratified by each state.
Composed primarily of medical professionals, the group says the Medicaid expansion will provide better health insurance to more than 100,000 low-income working professionals in our state while also reducing costs to the state.
Click here for more information on Idaho Health Care for All.
SUPPORTERS: EXPANSION WILL REDUCE COSTS
Lawmakers in Idaho did not approve the measure when it came up for vote in 2013's legislative session.
Dr. Mike Foutz is a member of Idaho Health Care for All. Foutz practices with Advanced Family Medicine in Kuna. He says Medicaid expansion will help reduce healthcare costs for those in need.
"There is certainly a need today, and people are suffering right now, either not going in, or when they go in having huge bills they can't afford to pay," said Dr. Foutz.
The group says the expansion would also mean that Idaho would receive millions in federal funding, along with significant savings for the state.
Dr. Foutz says the first step is getting everyone informed about exactly what the expansion would mean. He also said it's important to recognize exactly how the program could help.
"To look at the pros and cons, and say 'can we come up with a different solution that doesn't involve the federal government, is that available?'" Foutz asked. "Or is this really the only thing available today to help people be healthy and productive members of society?"
Idaho Health care for All is pushing for legislators to consider the issue as soon as possible. Since it was not passed by the January 2014 deadline, Idaho will not be eligible for all the federal funding that would have been available at that time.
ANOTHER CHANCE TO APPROVE
However, the group still hopes lawmakers will approve the expansion early next legislative session, so that Idaho could still receive some federal money.
Wednesday's informational meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the downtown Boise Library at 715 S.Capitol Blvd. Four panelists will be on hand to answer questions.
They include: James Baugh, with Disability Rights Idaho, Denise Chuckovich, with the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, Rep. Thomas Loertscher of District 32, and Corey Surber, with St. Alphonsus.
The meeting is open to the public.