BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho’s U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador on Thursday said he would consider working to overturn a voter-passed initiative if voters both elect him as governor and passed a ballot proposal seeking to expand Medicaid.
Labrador tells The Spokesman-Review that he would look at all options if the initiative passes.
“We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it,” Labrador said. “I would look at all the options.”
Medicaid expansion supporters are currently facing an April 30 deadline to submit enough signatures to ensure their proposal ends up on the November ballot. They say they are within 1,000 signatures of making their goal.
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If it does pass, however, the initiative would have the same status as a law passed by the Idaho Legislature. This means lawmakers and the governor can still work to amend, replace or repeal the initiative.
Such efforts are typically rare in Idaho due to elected officials’ hesitancy being seen as going against the will of the voters. Yet, in 2002, lawmakers overturned a 1994 voter-passed initiative that enacted term limits, and then went on to muster the two-thirds votes needed to override former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s veto of the override.
Labrador’s stance is different than his GOP gubernatorial opponent Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who said earlier this week he would adhere to the will of the voters.
“I will work with the Legislature. I checked two days ago about what their forecasted fiscal impact of that is. We think it’s about $39 million, so there’s going to be an impact to it,” Little said during Monday’s debate. “As we get closer, we’re going to have to get our arms around it. The Legislature will appropriate the money and the governor will have to figure out how to make it work. But if it’s the will of the people, it’ll be state law.”
Little was one of the 27 senators in 2002 who voted in favor of overturning the term limits initiative.
Meanwhile, fellow candidate Tommy Ahlquist was less clear about what he would do if the initiative passed in Idaho when asked during Monday’s debate.
“We need to reform Medicaid,” he said, saying the current federal-state program has “so much waste and abuse,” Ahlquist said. “If they pass it, I will fight for changes to health care in Idaho. We can lead the nation on this. We’re small, we’re nimble.”
The primary election is May 15.
About 51,000 to 62,000 working Idahoans are believed to be in the gap population that earns too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to qualify for insurance subsidies. Lawmakers could resolve the gap by expanding Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act but have refused, citing too much opposition to the federal law.
Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com