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0000017b-f971-ddf0-a17b-fd73f4140000Coverage of the 2018 Elections in Spokane, throughout the region, and across the country. Support for SPR Election reporting is provided by Spokane Journal of Business, Express Employment Professionals, and SPR members.Click here for a list of 2018 Election Coverage Special Events

Idaho Governor Endorses Medicaid Expansion Initiative

Idahoans For Healthcare

Idaho’s Medicaid expansion initiative, Proposition 2, picked up Governor Butch Otter’s endorsement today [Tuesday]. Supporters hope that will convince undecided voters to support the measure during next Tuesday’s election.

Otter and his wife Lori appear briefly in a new TV ad for the proposition.

“Proposition 2 is an Idaho-grown solution,” he said. He's followed by voices of other Idahoans: “It would keep Idaho families healthy and bring our tax dollars back to Idaho."

The measure would allow the state to accept federal money to expand the Gem State’s Medicaid program. Supporters say as much as $400 million could be routed to the state. That, they says, would allow as many as 62,000 residents who don’t qualify for Medicaid or who can’t afford policies on the state exchange to get subsidized health insurance.

“Governor Otter has been a long-standing advocate for bringing a solution to our healthcare coverage gap crisis in Idaho," says Caroline Merritt, spokeswoman for the group Idahoans for Healthcare, which is running the campaign for Proposition 2.

"He’s brought multiple proposals to the legislature, trying to get something done in one form or another, but those attempts have been unsuccessful because our legislature was unable to come to an agreement about a solution to the gap population,” she said.

The Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy group, released a report last week that estimated the potential benefits of expanding Medicaid in Idaho. It claims more than 200 lives could be saved every year and that Idahoans could collectively reduce their medical debt by $110 million.

A few major Idaho businesses, including the Idaho Forest Group, Chobani and Clif Bar, have also endorsed Prop 2, as have a few Idaho lawmakers, including retiring state Sen. Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint).