On Monday in a 13-22 vote, the Senate rejected SB1142, the health care band-aid bill sponsored by Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian. You’ll remember, this is the bill which would have taken $10 million of money from the state’s Millennium Fund to create something called the Health Care Assistance Program. The program would have provided some primary health services to a small portion of Idaho’s gap population, but would have insured no one and didn’t even include funding for hospital care.

According to the bill’s sponsor, the program would have benefitted only 10,000-15,000 Idahoans. There are approximately 78,000 people who fall in the insurance gap in the state. The bill would have barely scratched the surface, doing very little for some–and absolutely nothing for most–people in the state who need health care and currently have nothing.

Another problem with the bill, articulated by Sen. Maryanne Jordan, D-Boise, on the Senate floor during the debate, is that the $10 million which would fund the program would take away from other important programs currently in place, such as the Project Filter program or the Idaho Suicide Hotline.

We’re glad to see this bill fail. The Legislature needs to do something meaningful, like expanding Medicaid, to expand healthcare coverage in Idaho. Offering us scraps is an insult and demonstrates how out of touch lawmakers are with the needs of Idahoans. 

Idaho Legislature, you can and must do better. Lives depend on it.