Forum centers on Proposition two

A benefit for all — that’s how panelist Tim Faust described proposition two at a forum on the University of Idaho campus Thursday.

¨I believe that if Idaho Medicaid expansion is successful it will become a model for healthcare in the future,¨ he said.

Proposition two is an initiative that if passed, will help to expand Medicaid eligibility to a broader range of low income earning individuals including able bodied people without children.

If Proposition two passed, it would expand Medicaid access to Idahoans who fall in the gap of making too much money for Medicaid but not enough money to afford insurance on the state exchange. Outgoing Idaho governor Butch Otter endorsed the proposition Tuesday.

“Got Health Insurance? Prop 2 and the Fight for Affordable Health Care” was a forum that aimed to provide information to students about proposition two. In this forum, four panelists were asked questions by students.

Panelist and former state legislator Dan Scmidt said Idaho urgently needs proposition two.

¨Idaho has a system of paying for healthcare that started in its territorial times … People should be enrolled in insurance… and when the Affordable Healthcare Act passed there was a way to do that and some states chose to accept that and some chose not too, and Idaho chose not to,” Schmidt said.

He continued, “I do not think that Medicaid expansion will solve Idaho’s healthcare problems but I think it’s a good step and a right step.”

Student panelist Mary Hollenbeck said proposition two is important to her because of issues with the student health care program.

¨With my parents retired I am not on their health insurance, so when I am in school I am forced to pay $900 for four months of insurance, and when its summer I am just uninsured… If prop 2 passed I could actually take care of myself regularly without the burden of the cost…,” Hollenbeck said.

Hollenbeck said students are required to have health insurance if they are taking more than nine credits, and for students who are taking summer classes or are international students, this can raise their student debt.

Panelist Kara Besst, president and CEO of Gritman Medical Center, discussed how rural hospitals have had to shut down without Medicaid expansion.

Besst said since Gritman is a non-profit hospital, Gritman will provide care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. Besst said that as a result, Gritman ends up covering that cost.

¨In 2017, Gritman wrote off $5.1 million dollars in Charity Care and Bad Debt… proposition two would help alleviate some of that financial weight and allow Gritman to invest that money back into the community,” Besst said.

Hollenbeck said that the passage of proposition two would help many students at the University of Idaho, as they wouldn´t have to rely on SHIP anymore.
Hollenbeck said this would help many students get out of debt instead of going further into debt. ¨It would help students by giving us health justice, I think a lot of students should vote for people who are on SHIP and for themselves and a lot of their friends,¨ Hollenbeck said.

Faust said that proposition two would help to end a cycle of debt especially with students at the University of Idaho.

¨If you are a student, the one percent is making a killing by saddling you with an impossible amount of student debt larger than anywhere else,” Faust said “… there’s an economic bubble from exploiting student debt and credit card debt … medical debt too … You are not making that choice. That debt that dangles over your head.”

Cody Allred can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @CodyLAllred

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