Letter to the editor: Workers who need Medicaid

Workers who need Medicaid

Received July 26

In his July 25 commentary, Bryan Smith leaves the impression that if able-bodied, childless adults are unable to pay for health care, they should get a job so that they wouldn’t need Medicaid. However, the people in the Medicaid gap are already working.

This year the minimum wage in Idaho is still the same as the federal minimum, $7.25 / hour, $290 for a 40 hour week and $15,080 per year. A person working a full-time minimum wage job may be the person working as a child-care worker, in food preparation, farm work or in many other low-wage but essential jobs. Idaho has the highest proportion of minimum wage jobs of all states in the country. These people do not earn enough to qualify for subsidies to buy health insurance on the exchange and earn too much to be on Medicaid coverage. Is there a reason they should have to choose between paying out of pocket for health care and putting food on the table?

Under Medicaid expansion, a person working a full-time minimum wage job in Idaho would qualify for Medicaid, whether childless or supporting a family.

If Medicaid expansion is the most cost-efficient option we have in 2018 and the foreseeable future to make sure all minimum wage workers can get health care and stay in the workforce, that’s what I’m supporting. The alternative is the health care crisis we have now and its false economies that end up costing more.


Idaho Falls