During political campaigns, stories and accusations may swirl. Sometimes misinformation ends up being taken as fact. In my present re-election campaign there is a claim circulating that I “sponsored the bill that killed Medicaid expansion.” While it is no secret that I oppose expanding traditional Medicaid, the story attributes to me something that never happened. It also implies that I have not tried to solve our health care crisis. Both are untrue.
The problem with the story is that there was no bill to kill Medicaid expansion. It takes a bill to enact Medicaid expansion, not one to kill it. I could not sponsor a bill that never existed.
In contrast, I actually co-sponsored legislation to take a step forward. At the end of the 2016 legislative session nothing was happening to address the issue. A Democrat proposal to fully expand traditional Medicaid was printed early in the session, but was sitting in the Senate H&W committee due to lack of support to expand traditional Medicaid. No other bills were out there. Rep. John Vander Woude and I stepped into the void and sponsored HCR63 to establish a legislative interim committee to evaluate options for the Gap population, including developing criteria for an Idaho based Medicaid waiver. While there have been other study committees, none were commissioned by the legislature which sets policy. Along with HCR63, we also jointly sponsored HB644 authorizing additional funding to our community and rural health centers to aid the Gap population in the short run. HCR63 and HB644 both passed the House, but were altered by the Senate in a manner unacceptable to the House, therefore the bills died. As Paul Harvey would have said, that’s the rest of the story.