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Posted on: 08/07/12

Another Panel Meets to Expand Medicaid

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The coverage has been appalling - particularly given the magnitude of the issues on the table. About the only place to get news coverage is on the website of the Idaho Reporter - run by the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

They are carrying a report on the meeting of a group whose mission is to advise Governor Otter on the question of expanding Medicaid, as part of the Obama agenda to remake America.

Unfortunately for Idaho, the conclusion is already foregone.

There are 14 members of the panel, including 3 legislators who have a proven history of support for expanding the program. (Here is a list of the membership).

Many Idahoans may be surprised to learn that Medicaid has already been expanded under the leadership of Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, chair of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee. Medicaid spending has increased by 289% since 1996. But the steep increases have occurred since Lodge took over leadership of the committee: Medicaid spending has increased 48% in just the past 5 years.

The panel is chaired by the Department of Health & Welfare Director, Dick Armstrong.

One of his deputies, Leslie Clement, is quoted in the Reporter story as testifying this week that, "I think it's a smart thing to do, to expand the Medicaid program." No real surprise there.

Seven of the 14 panel members are involved in the health care industry - meaning they or their clients stand to directly benefit from a massive expansion of government subsidies for their services.

According to the news account, panel members learned that something like 105,000 Idahoans will become eligible for Medicaid benefits under Obama's expansion. The lure for many in the bureaucracy, the media and Idaho Legislature is that the initial costs of this expansion will largely be borne by the federal government.

Unfortunately, the federal government is broke. But don't be lulled into thinking that fact will impede this task force in the least.

More importantly, putting the lives of even more Idaho families in the hands of a government bureaucracy represents a dangerous development. Even as Obama seeks to expand government control of health care - a number of states are working to restrict Medicaid benefits already in place because of the overwhelming costs associated with the current program.

Last week, USA Today published a front-page story declaring that 13 states - Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wisconsin - are cutting benefits. Some fear those cuts will mean fewer doctors able to deal with Medicaid patients.

There are now 4 different "working groups" tackling the project of writing recommendations for Governor Otter and the Idaho Legislature.  One is a legislative interim committee, co-chaired by Rep. Gary Collins and Sen. Dean Cameron.  Two are working groups appointed by Otter - one headed by Armstrong, the other by Insurance Director Bill Deal.

The fourth advisory group is the Leavitt Group - hired by Otter to provide him with some "independent" financial data.  Unfortunately, this outfit is headed by former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt - who spent time this past winter lobbying legislators on behalf of Obama's insurance exchange.

So it is clear that Otter has surrounded himself with stakeholders in building ObamaCare in Idaho.  The people of Idaho will have to defend themselves.  That means contacting Governor Otter, and that means paying close attention to legislative candidates this November.

You can leave a message for Governor Otter by calling his office at 334-2100.

We also recommend calling Rep. Gary Collins, the House co-chair of the Legislative Task Force.  Collins is a solid pro-Life guy from Canyon County.  His number at the Capitol is 332-1063.

Most importantly - we must pray for the Lord's mercy.

Next page: 2009

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