House Minority Leader John Rusche (D-Lewiston) this morning made an unorthodox push for action on a pair of bills that would expand Medicaid eligibility in Idaho and do away with the state’s catastrophic healthcare fund. As the Idaho Statesman‘s Dan Popkey writes:
House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, took the rare step of using a parliamentary move to force a committee chairman to hold a hearing on legislation against his will. His gambit failed Monday morning, when House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Fred Wood of Burley was supported by his GOP colleagues. — Idaho Statesman
Rep. Rusche and Chairman Wood are not at odds on the issue. Wood, like Rusche, favors opting into the Medicaid expansion that is a central component of the federal Affordable Care Act.
a Friday committee hearing, Wood said to Rep. Tom Loertscher (R-Iona), who presented the bills: “As you well know, when it comes to myself, you’re preaching to the choir here. You and I both, had we had our way, would have introduced this January 7 or 8. But unfortunately that’s not the way the world works around here.”
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said in his State of the State address he would not seek to expand Medicaid benefits this legislative session. House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) said last week it is too late to move forward on the issue this session.
Independent reports prepared for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare predict state and county government would save money through the optional expansion.