On November 6, Idahoans have the chance to cast a pivotal vote that will help our citizens in the Medicaid coverage gap, bring taxpayer money back to Idaho, and create jobs. This incredible opportunity is Proposition 2, the bipartisan ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in Idaho. Expanding Medicaid will help Idaho’s gap population – those 62,000 Idahoans who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford coverage through the state health insurance exchange.
As the CEO of Heritage Health, a locally-operated, nonprofit healthcare system providing high-quality primary care, we offer affordable services to everyone. For those without insurance, a sliding-fee payment scale supports access. In 2017, Heritage Health served 27,616 patients, nearly 8,000 of these patients were uninsured and 87% of these patients are living below 200% of the federal poverty level. Although we provide primary medical care, dental, mental health, and pharmacy services, sometimes our patients require specialty care or hospitalization which they can’t obtain without healthcare coverage.
This was the situation with Tyler. At 18, Tyler suffered a heart attack and it was discovered he had a very rare blood vessel disease. Left untreated, granulomatosis with polyangiitis can be fatal.
Tyler was undergoing lifesaving chemotherapy treatments when he lost his insurance coverage after he turned 19. He applied for Medicaid and Social Security benefits but was denied because of his age and his lack of work history. He fell into the gap.
Tyler was unable to continue working his construction job because of the physical toll the disease took on him. He stopped all chemo treatments because he didn’t want to go thousands of dollars into debt.
“I didn’t want to condemn myself to a life of debt,” he said. “I wasn’t going to do that. No way. I started going to Heritage Health because I knew about their sliding fee scale system and that they would see me.”
Tyler’s providers were able to find an alternative medication to treat the disease. Currently, he is in remission and we are happy to report his life is going well. He also was able to get a manufacturing job and he’s hopeful for the future. However, he still doesn’t have health insurance.
As CEO, my team and I do everything possible to empower community members to lead healthy lifestyles and seek care when needed. As a business person and taxpayer, I also care deeply about what’s right for our state and our citizens. Right now, Idaho taxpayers – you and I – are not getting our money’s worth. Passage of Proposition 2 will bring $400 million a year of our tax money back to Idaho. Thirty-three other states have passed Medicaid expansion, including 17 states led by Republican governors. They are bringing their tax dollars back to help their citizens and they are creating jobs in their states while Idaho is not. However, the passage of Proposition 2 would change this.
November 6 will soon come and go, but voters can make a lasting impact on our state and secure a win for hard-working Idahoans, for taxpayers, and for a stronger state economy.
Proposition 2 is the right thing to do – for Idaho families and for taxpayers. Please vote on November 6.
CEO, Heritage Health