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BOISE – Today, following the passage of Senate Bill 1204aa in a vote of 19-16, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH) condemned the latest actions of the Idaho State Legislature for blocking access 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, and people who have chronic illness. This also puts additional burdens on those who already face barriers to work like transportation, housing, and education. In a state where 11 percent of the population remains uninsured and more than 560,000 people live in rural communities, the legislature’s misguided actions today makes it that much harder to access health care. More than half of women who have Medicaid coverage are women of color, making this a direct attack on communities of color’s ability to access essential and lifesaving health care.

It is also important to note that the vast majority of Medicaid enrollees who can work outside of the home do. According to Health Affairs, 87 percent of Medicaid expansion enrollees are already working, in school, or looking for work. If they don’t work it is likely the result of a major impediment and this bill does nothing to actually help people secure employment. 

Statement from Mistie Tolman, Idaho State Director for PPVNH:

“This entire legislative session is focused on silencing the voice of the people. Medicaid expansion passed in November with overwhelming support, and Idaho voters recognized the need to ensure health care coverage to as many people as possible through this ballot initiative. Our legislators don’t seem to value our lives because they have spent all of this legislative session pushing this discriminatory bill. Medicaid work requirements will hurt women the most. And it could cost many women access to basic family planning like birth control.

“The Medicaid program is designed to help people who already face the greatest barriers to health care stay healthy and treat chronic conditions that might keep them from working. Having access to health care, including birth control and other family planning services, makes it easier for women to find and keep jobs, which in turn benefits their children and families.

“Let’s be clear: The actions by the Republican controlled House and Senate are cutting to the core of the Medicaid program. We will not stand for this blow to our health care system. Just like we helped stand in the way of the Revenge Against Voters bill, we will continue to stand up for access to health care for all people.”