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Signing SB 1204aa Into Law Sends A Clear Message That Our Elected Leaders Don’t Care About the Voices or the Health Of Idahoans

BOISE – Today, Governor Brad Little signed Senate Bill 1204aa, legislation that will put work requirements on Medicaid expansion, a move that goes directly against the will of Idaho voters who passed Medicaid expansion last November with overwhelming support. Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH) condemns Governor Little for this cowardly decision and is dismayed by the Idaho State Legislature for creating barriers to health care coverage for thousands of the most vulnerable Idahoans, including a disproportionate number of women.

Tying burdensome work requirements to Medicaid expansion, could threaten the health care of people who would have gained coverage under Medicaid expansion, including people who have chronic illness. In Idaho, where 11 percent of the population remains uninsured and more than 560,000 people live in rural communities, the legislature is committed to making it that much harder to access health care. With more than half of the women with Medicaid coverage identifying as women of color, this is a direct attack on communities of color’s ability to access essential and lifesaving health care.

In addition to the work requirements, the bill includes a family planning clause making it so Medicaid expansion recipients would face additional barriers to family planning services as there is now a mandate to receive a waiver from an assigned primary care doctor to access this care.  

Statement from Mistie Tolman, Idaho State Director for PPVNH:

“Medicaid work requirements are unnecessary policy in search of a problem, as the majority of Medicaid enrollees who can work are already employed. Studies have shown that nearly 90 percent of Medicaid enrollees are either working, in school, or actively seeking employment. The fact that the majority of Medicaid enrollees already work demonstrates that these work requirements aren’t necessary and will simply add more bureaucratic red tape.

“This is a harmful policy that creates unnecessary obstacles to coverage for enrollees and raise costs in the health care system for everyone. This law will be challenged in court and when it comes down to it, our state legislators continue to choose wasting taxpayers dollars over investing in the health and wellbeing of the people of Idaho. Legislators and the governor are setting up Medicaid enrollees to fail, causing thousands to be stripped of their health care coverage.

“The ability for women to control their reproductive futures is vital to their ability to control their financial futures. Affordable health care is often a prerequisite for enabling women to gain employment, and draconian work requirements create a vicious cycle locking vulnerable populations out of the Medicaid program. Our governor supports this backward, punitive and harsh tactic.”

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