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Idaho House Approves Medicaid Work Bill

Idaho Public Television

The Idaho House today [Thursday] voted to impose work restrictions on people who sign up for Medicaid if and when the program expands.

The vote was 45-to-25 and came just one day after a committee voted to move the bill to the House for debate.

The work requirements are in a bill sponsored by Rep. John Vander Woude (R-Nampa). He explained a few of the details at a committee hearing on Wednesday.

“It’s 20 hours-a-week, average, on a monthly basis. It doesn’t have to be every week. It’s calculated on a monthly basis. Those 20 hours-a-week can also be part-time volunteering or part-time in training and the 20 hours-a-week are based on minimum wage, which ends up being about $150 a week," he said.

There are several other exemptions as well, for example for some parents who have young children and for older adults.

The bill doesn’t sit well with House Democrats, such as Rep. Muffy Davis (D-Ketchum), who say the restrictions were not part of the Medicaid initiative voters approved in November.

Supporters of Proposition 2 have been battling the work requirements and thought they had tabled an earlier iteration of a Medicaid work bill two weeks ago. She says the work requirements will require the state to hire as many as 20 new people to do the record keeping.

“I am really struggling to understand why we are back here a couple of weeks later. We were just here a couple weeks ago with another Medicaid bill, which we heard overwhelming testimony against some of the requirements that were on that and now, here we are, two weeks later in the same building with a new bill that you are bringing to us that is arguably even more restrictive and has more limitations," Davis said.

Lawsuits have been filed in a few states where legislatures have imposed work restrictions on Medicaid recipients, most recently Wednesday in New Hampshire.