If state lawmakers continue refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Idaho will miss out on $3.3 billion in federal Medicaid dollars and another $1.5 billion in hospital reimbursements over the next eight years.
That's according to a new report by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Idaho is one of 24 Republican-controlled states that haven't expanded Medicaid to all low-income adults. As a result, the reports estimates that 6.7 million people across the country will remain uninsured in 2016. In Idaho, as many as 54,780 people in poverty lack any affordable health insurance options: They don't qualify for Medicaid under current state law and earn too little to receive tax subsidies to help them pay for health insurance purchased through Your Health Idaho.
Why's that? We wrote about people who fall in this so-called "coverage gap" last October: Under the ACA, people earning between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line who purchase insurance in the online exchanges can apply for tax-credit subsidies to offset the cost of their plans. The law intended to provide Medicaid coverage to anyone making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. But when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA two years ago, the justices barred the federal government from requiring states to expand Medicaid eligibility.
"The impact of not expanding Medicaid has broader implications than just the number of people who gain insurance," said Kathy Hempstead, the director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in a statement. "It significantly impacts state economies and hospital budgets. States are literally leaving billions of dollars on the table that would support their hospitals and stimulate the rest of their economies."
Read the full report here.