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VERIFY: What would Prop 2 do for Idaho?

The new campaign ad makes several claims about what the passage of Proposition 2 would do for Idaho. But are they all true?

BOISE — The campaign backing Prop 2, the expansion of Medicaid in Idaho, has launched a new ad.

It’s aimed at explaining how Prop 2 would bring taxpayer money back to Idaho, and help expand overall health care for Idahoans in the coverage gap.

Is the ad completely true? KTVB verifies the facts.

The ad starts by saying, "Every year $400 million of our tax dollars goes to Washington, D.C., And every year Washington sends those dollars to other states, your tax dollars to pay for their health care."

The federal government collects taxes from every state and then uses that money to pay for federal programs.

One of those programs is Medicaid, which has not been expanded in Idaho. The states that have expanded Medicaid coverage do get extra federal funds for the program, but they are not specifically getting Idaho's money.

The Congressional Research Center clarified this in 2015 saying:

"If a state doesn't implement the ACA Medicaid expansion, the federal funds that would have been used for that state's expansion are not being sent to another state. There is not a set amount of federal funding for Medicaid. Each state gets the federal funding necessary for their Medicaid program."

So, we can verify that Idaho would get more of its tax dollars back, but other states have not been getting Idaho's money for Medicaid programs just because Idaho hasn't opted in.

The ad continues, "But there is an Idaho solution that would change that, Proposition 2, it would bring our tax dollars back to Idaho."

According to a report for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare done by Milliman, Inc., in the first full year of Medicaid expansion, Idaho would get around $370 million extra in federal funding for Medicaid.

The ad goes on to add, "And expand Medicaid to tens of thousands of hard-working Idahoans."

We can verify that yes, the expansion of Medicaid would open up health insurance to the about 62,000 people that fall into the so-called, "coverage gap."

Those are people who currently make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to qualify for healthcare subsidies.

The ad wraps up saying, "Help our rural hospitals, create jobs, and bring our tax dollars back."

According to a report done by Georgetown University, the expansion of Medicaid could help improve the quality and availability of health care in rural areas and small towns. Idaho is mentioned by name in that study.

According to the report, fewer uninsured people would typically translate to a more stable health care system.

In addition, the report says Medicaid expansion would save rural hospitals money by cutting down on the amount of unpaid bills from people who can't afford treatment.

In terms of creating jobs, the ad cites a private consultation report done by Steven Peterson a clinical associate professor of Economics at the University of Idaho.

According to Peterson's study and explanation, Federal dollars supporting Medicaid expansion represent new monies coming into Idaho's economy which creates economic activity – supporting new jobs, new spending by individuals and organizations, and new tax revenue.

That claim is tough to verify since it is based on economic projections, but it could very well happen.

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