BOISE -- Amid one bruising fight over a key provision of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, the Legislature may just embark on another: Whether to expand Medicaid for another 104,000 low-income people, to replace Idaho's existing program for paying medically costs for the indigent.

The House Health and Welfare Committee introduced the proposal Thursday, part of a package that would eliminate Idaho's catastrophic health care program.

Only Wednesday, the House debated seven hours before passing a state-based insurance exchange.

Another part of the overhaul, Medicaid expansion, may provoke similarly strong feelings.

But Republican Rep. Tom Loertscher of Iona, who voted against the exchange but introduced the Medicaid expansion bill on Thursday, suggested it's necessary to craft a long-term solution to covering the escalating costs of the state's indigent population's medical bills.

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