INTERVIEW: Representative Young explains failed Medicaid expansion repeal

Representative Julianne Young | Image Courtesy: Idaho State Legislature

Listen to KID NewsRadio’s interview with Representative Julianne Young


BOISE, Idaho Another effort to block Medicaid expansion has died in committee.

Representative Julianne Young presented a bill to the House Health and Welfare Committee on Thursday, February 21 that would have repealed Medicaid expansion.

The effort comes as lawmakers grapple with how to fund the voter-approved initiative and while many have urged lawmakers to simply implement Medicaid expansion as it was written on the ballot, Rep. Young said the ballot measure doesn’t answer all the questions the legislature is now facing.

“A good analogy for what I think we’re experiencing is…we had on the ballot a measure that said something like, ‘Would you like to have a new car,'” Representative Young said. “But, there’s nothing in that legislation that specifies exactly what the car looks like, what features it’s going to have or what the price tag is, and so now here we are in the legislature and we’re faced with this question.”

Medicaid costs are already expected to rise next year without the implementation of the expansion measure. In is proposed budget, Governor Little requested an increase in funding for Medicaid.

“The governor’s budget ask for $100 million next year to cover our existing Medicaid expenses, more than what we spent the previous year,” Rep. Young said. “That’s without Medicaid expansion. So, this is a lot of tax payer dollars, and even though we like to think sometimes that things are free, the reality is that when governments spend money somehow it comes out of the pockets of the people. So, this really is a significant tax increase one way or the other.”

Rep. Young said the 7-5 committee vote is reflective of how Idahoans feel about Medicaid expansion. Even though 61 percent of Idahoans voted in favor of Medicaid expansion in the November elections, many counties’ votes were far closer to an even split.

“In our district, in Bingham county, it’s about 49 percent, 51 percent. It was almost even,” Rep. Young said. “Yet this 51% is going to be able to impose the significant tax burden on the other 49%.”

Going forward, Rep. Young said lawmakers are going to have to look very closely at how the expansion will be funded.

“What I’m hoping to see here in Boise is some attempts to provide the best, most reasonable safeguards that we can,” Rep. Young said. “Then continue to look for some solutions that are going to address the real underlying problems with the cost of healthcare, which is the lack of transparency, choice, and accountability.”