Bringing the Economy Home

Retired Probation Officer Leads (Modest) Fight For Idaho Medicaid Expansion

Courtesy Will Cavanaugh

Boise resident Will Cavanaugh says he started the SignOn petition on a whim last week.

Last week, Boise resident Will Cavanaugh, 77, found an email in his inbox.  It was from left-leaning political action group  Would he like to write a petition about anything?  “Sure,” he thought.  Healthcare was on his mind, given the recent Supreme Court ruling.  “How about the Medicaid expansion?”

So Cavanaugh, who describes himself as an Idaho native and retired federal probation officer, did the modern version of taking a clipboard door-to-door.  He wrote up an online petition.  It was addressed to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.  It was short and to-the-point.  “We call on Governor Otter to honor the spirit of the Supreme Court decision on the health care act and accept the federal financial help offered,” it began.

It was posted last Wednesday.  “On Thursday, there were 50 people who had signed up,” Cavanaugh said today.  “Now I’m up to 1,824!  They want me to take it to the Governor when it gets to 2,000!”

Some of those who have signed on so far have written messages, in addition to attaching their names.  “I’m watching too many of my friends and neighbors suffering from broken teeth, lack of mental health care, persistent pain and much more,” writes a person who identifies himself as Chris Sherwood, from Coeur d’Alene.

“Please help those amongst us who need this care. Do not let party lines blind you to what is right,” writes Lesley Mercill from Rexburg.

Cavanaugh says he didn’t write the petition out of personal need, but based on principle.  “I’m a retired federal employee,” he explains.  “I have the same insurance that the president has.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t want the same for other people!  The more the merrier!”

Unlike Republican governors in some other states, Gov. Otter has so far resisted a flat-out rejection of the Medicaid expansion.  Tuesday, the governor issued an op-ed saying he is in the process of establishing two working groups to address the main questions raised by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Some Republican legislative leaders, however, are a bit more riled.  House Speaker Lawerence Denney (R-Midvale) and House Majority Leader Mike Moyle (R-Star) today issued a joint statement saying that Idaho should not implement the health care law.  “Resistance usually comes at a cost, but the state of Idaho must resist Obamacare,” they wrote.

Gov. Otter’s press secretary, Jon Hanian, says he’s seen nothing of Cavanaugh’s petition so far, but they’ll take a look if it lands in their hands.  “We review everything that’s addressed to [the governor],” Hanian said.  “If and when we receive it, I’m sure we’ll look at it and review it.”

At 3:15 this afternoon, Cavanaugh’s online petition had over 1,800 signatures.  The number was still climbing toward the 2,000 goal.  As of publication, 2,090 people had signed.  But that wasn’t the only change on Cavanaugh’s petition page.  The goal had climbed, too.  Now, it’s 3,000.


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