Voters across Idaho were filing the final signatures on Tuesday, May 1, for a November ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in the state.
According to a release, supporters were anticipating turning in more than 60,000 valid signatures, collected from all 44 counties and all 35 legislative districts across Idaho, to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Of this, Idaho County volunteers collected nearly 800 signatures.
The state required 56,192 valid signatures, including signatures from 6 percent of registered voters in at least 18 legislative districts, to be turned in to county clerks by May 1. The clerks then have until June 30 to validate the signatures. All petitions must be submitted to the secretary of state on July 6.
Intent of the initiative effort, according to supporters, is to bring health coverage to residents who are caught in what’s known as “the health coverage gap.” They earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to be eligible for financial assistance so they can afford coverage through Idaho’s health insurance exchange.
“This is the first step in saving hundreds of lives in Idaho, saving our rural hospitals and saving Idaho’s taxpayers millions of dollars. It should have been done long ago,” said Idaho County volunteer Ron Beitelspacher.
According to organizers, the measure would help residents in every part of the state, including rural areas where many Idahoans have been unable to obtain health coverage.