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Idaho Opts Out Of Medicaid Expansion

Idaho Opts Out Of Medicaid Expansion

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Idaho is one of 15 states opting out of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Health Care Act.

Medicaid is heath coverage through the state level.

Children, those 65 and older who are blind or declared disabled by Social Security will be able to stay on Medicaid.

Expanding Medicaid under the ACA is meant to allow low-income adults who qualify under the federal poverty guidelines access to medicaid.

Come Jan. 1, adults in the 35 states which have opted-in for medicaid expansion will now have health insurance, but in Idaho they won't.

Less than a week before the health exchanges open confusion is felt by most eastern Idahoans.

"Like any big product launch there's going to be some glitches. Folks in different parts of the country will have different experiences. it's going to be smoother in places like Maryland where the governors are working to implement it rather than fight it," said President Barack Obama.

Idaho is one of 15 states fighting Obamacare.

Governor Butch Otter decided to opt out of Medicaid expansion affecting nearly 300,000 Idahoans.

"It's unfortunate that there are states in the country like Idaho that have made that decision to arbitrarily affect and deny a service that was meant to reach a very significant portion of people," said Nick Burrow, senior service director at Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership.

Burrows said not expanding medicaid means uninsured people end up seeking health care from emergency rooms, which ends up costing more at the local level.

"They're going to counties, they're still going to hospitals, they're not paying the bills which is contributing to rising healthcare costs," said Burrows.

Burrows says opting out of expansion is likely to save money from the state general fund, but not tax payers.

"The reality is if we were to expand health insurance these people would probably access healthcare more pro-actively than re-actively which would save money across the board," said Burrows

Expanding medicaid is meant to give low-income, uninsured adults access to health care, but not in Idaho.

"They're depriving them of something if they lived in one of the other 35 states they'd have access to. If their lifestyles were the same if they had the same employment, they suddenly would have access to health insurance," said Burrows.

Currently, Idaho has opted out of the Medicaid expansion, but there is a possibility Idaho could reverse it's stance on medicaid expansion when the new legislative session starts.

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