HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Organizers with Close the Gap Idaho say lawmakers should advance legislation that would expand health care coverage to roughly 35,000 residents and lower premiums for those who purchase coverage on the state-based health insurance exchange. However, that bill has since been deemed dead for the year due to a lack of Republican support.
About 78,000 working Idahoans are believed to be in the gap population that earns too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to qualify for insurance subsidies.
Idaho could resolve this gap population by expanding Medicaid eligibility, as allowed under the Affordable Care Act, but lawmakers have repeatedly rejected such efforts.
California panel rejects government-run health care
State lawmakers studying improvements to California's health care system are rejecting a plan popular with Democratic activists to give everyone in the state government-funded health care
By JONATHAN J. COOPER
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - State lawmakers studying improvements to California's health care system on Tuesday rejected on a plan popular with Democratic activists to give everyone in the state government-funded health care, saying a "single-payer" plan would need extensive work to become viable.
The lawmakers instead released a report recommending a variety of ways to lower health care costs and reduce the ranks of the uninsured. It said creating government-run health care would be a long-term endeavor requiring new money and legislative staff and that such a plan would likely require approval from California voters and Congress.
Single-payer health care has become a rallying cry for many on the left, who have advocated for lawmakers to quickly boot health insurance companies from California. Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon angered backers of such a plan last year when he shelved a single-payer bill, SB562, which he called woefully incomplete. It's poised to be a flashpoint in the race for governor among the Democratic candidates.
The report was prepared by two University of California professors and a private consultant at the behest of an Assembly committee created last year by Rendon. The speaker called for hearings following pressure from critics after he derided the single-payer bill for lacking a way to cover the $400 billion cost.
In the short-term, the report suggests creating a publicly run option for low-income patients on Medi-Cal, extending Medi-Cal to cover people living in the country illegally, fining people who don't have insurance coverage and collecting all health claims in a database to improve transparency and coordination.
"The report outlines some options for us to consider that will help increase access and affordability," Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, a Fresno Democrat who was the committee's co-chairman, said in a statement. "This will allow us to make some immediate changes to expand coverage while we pursue long-term solutions."
The report angered the California Nurses Association, which developed SB562 and led protests of Rendon at the Capitol. Executive Director Bonnie Castillo called the report a "public disservice" and said the solutions it proposes "do nothing to address the cost crisis, other than provide political cover to politicians entering a political season who want to avoid the real solution, guaranteed health care for all, as proposed by SB 562."
The nurses have suggested funding the program through a combination of existing state and federal health care funds, payroll taxes and a sales tax.
Researchers noted several obstacles to advancing single-payer at the state level. California would need for federal waivers - potentially including an act of Congress - to use Medicare and Medi-Cal funds. State voters would need to approve tax hikes to get around a requirement nearly half of state revenue goes to education. And because the state can't run deficits, the system would need robust reserves to cover cost spikes or revenue shortfalls.