Idaho Gov.: Health Insurance Not That Necessary, Because People Who Have It Die Too

Last week, the Idaho Senate overwhelmingly voted to approve a measure that would have provided health insurance to over 78,000 working poor Idahoans, by applying for a waiver that would allow the state to tap Medicaid expansion funds as a block grant. This would have provided managed-care plans for those too poor to afford a plan on the exchange, but still making too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Alas, when it came to a vote in the House a day later, every Republican voted it down–and since they have the majority in the state, the expansion will not go forward. Due to the fact that this vote was held at the end of the legislative session, the legislature will not reconvene to find a solution to the coverage gap until next year.

Republican Idaho Governor Butch Otter says that although he’d love these people to have coverage, he will not reconvene the legislature for a special session to resolve this, and that the issue will just have to wait until next year.

In response to a critical care doctor’s statement that “1,000 Idahoans have died prematurely in the past three years for lack of health coverage and predicted more than 300 more deaths in the next year if Idaho doesn’t act,” Gov. Otter disagreed, noting that people with insurance also die.

“The idea that people are dying because they don’t have health care in Idaho, I don’t totally agree with that. I think the doctor was off-base. I see plenty of people that die every day in hospitals and they have insurance, and they’re in the hospital, but they still die. If it were easy, I guess we would have accomplished it a long time ago.”

As far as I know, literally no one has ever argued that having health insurance means that you get to be immortal. Just that, you know, if people have health insurance they are more likely to not die from treatable illnesses, like a girl the doctor mentioned who died from complications from asthma that could have easily been treated by a doctor.

Gov. Otter says that it’s not that the Republicans don’t care about the 78,000 people in Idaho without health insurance, just that the three years they have spent trying to come up with an alternate solution to a Medicare expansion block was just not long enough, and they need another year to think it over.

For the record, while Gov. Otter is not too concerned about the prospect of 300 people in his state dying from treatable illnesses, he is very concerned about the health and well being of both embryos and fetuses. He opposes both embryonic stem cell research and abortion. If only those 78,000 people had the good sense never to exit the womb, they would have been able to convince him and the Idaho House to care whether they live or die.