Idaho Senate Passes Measure To Allow Workers To Keep Medical
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 3, 2005
BOISE, IDAHO--By a narrow margin, Idaho's Senate voted Wednesday to allow people with disabilities to work without having to worry about losing their Medicaid benefits.
"Unbelievable -- I didn't think we had it," Bobby Ball, director of the state's Americans with Disabilities Act Task Force, told the Idaho Statesman.
The measure, S.1143, will remove one barrier to employment that people with disabilities face in the state. Under the current system, people who receive Medicaid can lose their medical benefits if their incomes increase much at all. Many have chosen not to look for jobs because they cannot find ones that will provide the medical insurance they need, or cannot earn enough to pay the high premiums for such coverage.
The measure was passed by a vote of 19-15. Some Senators argued that the state cannot afford the $500,000 that the law will cost.
But others, including Dick Compton of Coeur d'Alene and Shawn Keough of Sandpoint, argued that legislators should do what they can to help their citizens be productive taxpayers.
"They would like to be out working, they would like not to be in that tough position that 'by working I lose my lifeline,'" said Compton, who is the Chairman of Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
Keough, vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said: "We try to help people help themselves. We try to help people with a hand up, and we try not to trap them or give them (an incentive) to stay at home."
"From a policy standpoint, this helps get people out of the trap."