Nullification votes worries legislators - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Not you?||
Logout|My Dashboard

Nullification votes worries legislators

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2011 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — Between budget shortfalls and controversial legislation, local representatives and health care professionals are increasingly fearful for future of Medicaid in Idaho.

State representatives passed a 49-20 vote of legislation nullifying federal health care reform Wednesday morning. Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, the only Republican to oppose the legislation in the House State Affairs Committee’s 14-5 vote, emerged from a long day at the Legislature very displeased.

“I’m not a fan of the affordable health care bill, but this is the wrong way to oppose it,” he said.

Anderson’s position arrives on the heels of a statement from the  Idaho Attorney General’s Office declaring the nullification initiative unconstitutional.

“The attorney general thinks this bill is illegal,” Anderson said. “As far as I’m concerned, until that is cleared up, I’m not happy at all with today’s outcome.”

The attorney general’s office also cautioned lawmakers to tread carefully lest they endanger Idaho’s federal benefits. The AARP echoed that warning, citing potentially disastrous consequences for state health care. Their numbers state that 18,000 seniors could lose prescription drug coverage, 6,520 young adults could be dropped from their parents’ insurance plans, 212,000 older residents could lose free preventative screenings and 215,000 Medicaid enrollees could be forced from the program. The AARP also said that insurance providers could boot 857,000 residents once they reached their lifetime limit, resulting in higher premiums, and the state could lose $1.5 billion in federal matching funds for Medicaid.

“The extent of the damage is still up in the air,” Anderson said. “But it could be devastating and concerns me greatly.”

With its victory in the house, the nullification bill proceeds to the Senate. Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, said she couldn’t predict how senators would respond to the legislation.

“I do believe the federal government has overstepped its bounds, but this legislation is the wrong tool to address the issue.” she said. “My personal priority is to protect the more vulnerable members of society.”

But even if Idaho preserves its $1.5 billion in federal match funds, the future of Medicaid distresses local health care officials. Many legislators are calling for a $50 million cut to Medicaid dollars. Since the federal government matches $70 for every $30 of state Medicaid funding, that would result in a total loss of $166.5 million. According to the group Medicaid Matters in Idaho, that cut would eliminate irreplaceable jobs, hurt Idaho’s economic recovery and impact Idaho’s most vulnerable residents, including the elderly, the poor and the mentally disabled.

State officials called for residents to cover the loss of services with an increase in volunteer work. Cutback opponents estimated that Idaho would require 22,000 more volunteers to cover services for adults with disabilities.

“You can’t just replace an educated professional with volunteer hours,” Panhandle Special Needs, Inc. production manager Diane Dennis said.

To protest the proposed cuts and raise public awareness, Dennis and other health care professionals are hosting a rally Saturday at noon outside Panhandle State Bank.

“We’re keeping it short and sweet,” Dennis said. “There won’t be music or anything big like that — just an informational rally about the impact of the Medicaid cuts.”

Dennis didn’t know whether the rally would have any impact on the legislative discussion. According to Keough, the matter is still under investigation by the House and Senate Health and Welfare Committees.

“They’re taking an exhaustive effort to look at just how services are structured and how they’ll be impacted by the cuts,” she said.

However, both Anderson and Keough recognize the extent to which some residents depend on Medicaid, and they acknowledged that both the nullification bill and cutbacks warranted serious consideration based on the danger they posed to its services.

“It’s important to take a stand on this,” Anderson said regarding the nullification legislation. “It’s worth fighting for, no matter what the cost.”

More about

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • constructiondude posted at 11:05 pm on Fri, Feb 18, 2011.

    constructiondude Posts: 30

    I notice that tea partiers who have elected Republicans across many states have not spoken up about how to solve social programs, but vilify government programs that do help the elderly, poor, and disabled. The origanal tea party was a protest against repressive taxation by the British. Well, I notice my federal taxes are way down in the past couple of years. Theirs also I would expect. I, and my wife have proudly paid taxes all of our working lives to keep this country the best it can be. And although there are problems that can be fixed, this country is not broken as those who screwed it up will have you believe. We will gladly give back our Bush tax cuts to maintain the health and welfare of our fellow citizens. Want cuts, make it in the bloated military budget.

  • George posted at 6:40 am on Fri, Feb 18, 2011.

    George Posts: 24

    If it were not for medicaid my wife would most likely be dead, and my family would be living on the street. Without medicaid my children would be left without a mother they love. I never once thought that I would ever need public assistance nor did I want it. I've paid my fair share of taxes ever since I was fourteen years old and now I understand why I did. There are a lot of things wrong with our healthcare system but I thank God everyday that my wife gets the healthcare she needs. She is too young to die from something that can be treated with the right medication. Do I want her to stay on public healthcare the rest of her life, no, but until our country figures out how to provide medical services that are affordable, that is what we have to do. My wife can not do a lot, but she does devote a lot of her energy giving back to those in need. Please everyone go out on saturday and support our local representives in standing up for those people that truly need help.

  • cofer22 posted at 8:27 pm on Thu, Feb 17, 2011.

    cofer22 Posts: 1

    Finally some elected officials with some integrity. Good for you Eric Anderson for not playing politics. The healthcare situation in this country is going to get really bad. My question is how do you fix it? Political posturing to show the President, or by putting politics aside to come up with a real strategy? It's a joke the way we deal with hard topics. Personally I think it's a good thing that people are going to be SERIOUSLY affected. Then maybe they'll take notice and tell their elected officials ENOUGH. Health care shouldn't be a political football.
    Isn't it ironic that a lot of the same people who voted for these politicians are going to suffer because thier politics. Makes ya think.

  • MiTurn posted at 5:26 pm on Thu, Feb 17, 2011.

    MiTurn Posts: 35

    Entitlements are a HUGE problem and they need to be addressed sooner than later. We've created an entire population of people who truly believe it is their right to be supported by others. This attitude is anti-American. That being said, the programs are important, but only for the truly needy. Nonetheless, Anderson is right. This entire idea of nullification is patently absurd. Anyone with even a smattering of US History knows that this is illegal and a total waste of time. You'd think that our Congress in Boise could be more imaginative than this.

  • noel posted at 4:18 pm on Thu, Feb 17, 2011.

    noel Posts: 42

    @one of 200 health care should not be an entitlement program unfortunately alot of children will be hurt by cut backs. When insurance costs are skyrocketing and many can not afford to put their family on their insurance because it would take the entire paycheck we should not kepp cutting programs like medicaid and leave our future in bad health. The poor, mentally ill and the elderly will be hurt by further cuts. I hope you never get sick and lose your health insurance. But maybe to understand some of this maybe you should walk in someone elses shoes for a while because I used to be against any social programs when I was young but learned the hard way that they are not all bad. Karma was a @*&% to me one day and that woke me up to reality of the poor and vulnerable

  • one of 200 posted at 3:41 pm on Thu, Feb 17, 2011.

    one of 200 Posts: 9

    What did we do before all the entitllement programs came about ?