Idaho Rejects Medicaid Expansion

The program should be reformed, not made bigger, says governor


Idaho won't expand Medicaid to cover more poor people under President Barack Obama's health care reform law, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter (R) told legislators during his State of the State address on Monday.

Otter is the 10th Republican governor to reject extending Medicaid health coverage to more poor residents. The governor's decision contradicted a unanimous recommendation from a commission appointed by Otter that the state take advantage of the available federal funding to broaden Medicaid.

The health care reform law is supposed to use an expansion of Medicaid as the means to offer health benefits to as many as 17 million people earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which was $14,856 in 2012. Its effects, however, are being blunted by the Supreme Court and hostile Republican governors. When the court upheld the rest of Obama's law last year, it allowed states to refuse the Medicaid expansion, which the Congressional Budget Office says will deny health benefits to about 3 million people.