Maine Expanded Medicaid. Idaho can be next.

Dear friends of the Medicaid for Idaho Campaign,

Last month, when we decided to go big and put Medicaid Expansion on the Idaho ballot, we heard a litany of doubts:

“A ballot initiative is likely to fail, and failure will make future reforms less likely.”

“The campaign will cost 4 million dollars, and you’ll still lose.”

“Rural voters don’t like Medicaid.”

To all of these doubts, we always had one simple reply: “What about Maine?”

The rural, conservative-leaning state of Maine just now voted to expand Medicaid, and not by a slim margin. Maine’s Medicaid Expansion ballot initiative won by an 18-point landslide.

We believe Idaho can be next, and we need your support. In order to cover our start-up expenses, we need to raise $2,000 within the next week. One generous donor has made us an offer: If we can raise $1,500 by November 15th, the donor will contribute the last $500. Please donate $5 or more here:

https://squareup.com/store/reclaimidaho

Up until November 15th, anyone who donates $50 or more will receive a “Medicaid for Idaho Tour” Commemorative Calendar for 2018.

Thank you!

The Reclaim Idaho Team

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Reclaim Idaho in the News: ADVOCATES FILE IDAHO MEDICAID EXPANSION BALLOT INITIATIVE

KIMBERLEE KRUESI
Associated Press

OCTOBER 23, 2017 3:46 PM

BOISE, IDAHO
"Idaho is joining a handful of states where health advocates are hoping to bypass lawmakers who have refused to expand Medicaid and take the issue directly to voters through a ballot initiative.

"It seemed like a time for change," Luke Mayville, co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, a group leading the ballot initiative effort, said Monday.

"We wanted to get involved in the 2018 election and Medicaid expansion was a no-brainer."

Reclaim Idaho submitted the ballot initiative paperwork to the secretary of state's office last week. The proposal must now be vetted by the attorney general's office before supporters can start collecting signatures to get it on the 2018 November ballot.

The group would need at least 48,000 signatures to make the ballot.

The battle over whether to expand Medicaid has traditionally taken place inside state legislatures since former President Barack Obama's health care reform law was enacted in 2010. But after years of opposition from Republican state lawmakers, activists are seeking a new approach.

Voters in Maine will decide Nov. 7 whether to approve a referendum requiring the state to apply for Medicaid expansion for adults under 65 with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line. And last month, health care groups in Utah announced they would also seek a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid.

So far, no state has successfully expanded Medicaid eligibility through a ballot initiative. Montana supporters attempted to do so in 2014, but they failed to collect enough valid signatures from registered voters.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. government pays at least 90 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid while states picked up the rest. In total, 31 states have expanded their program...."

Read the full story from the Idaho Statesman by clicking here.

We're Putting Medicaid Expansion on the Ballot in Idaho

Our campaign has entered a bold new phase. Last Friday, we filed a proposal to put Medicaid Expansion on the ballot in November 2018.

Make no mistake, this will not be easy. Winning will require a monumental effort by volunteers all across the state. Any Idaho initiative must gather signatures from 6 percent of all registered voters statewide and also from 6 percent of voters in 18 different districts. That means a campaign cannot simply build support in population centers like Boise, but must organize and build support across the state.

However, as I've argued in my op-ed in the Idaho Statesman (read here), this is exactly the challenge we need. If we are going to change the conversation and achieve the health care system we deserve, we have no choice but to build a statewide grass-roots movement.

We can win. When we toured the state and talked to Idahoans from all walks of life, one thing became clear: There is a sleeping giant in this state. Its head is in the Panhandle. Its limbs stretch down to Salmon and Shelley, Blackfoot and Burley, McCall and Mountain Home. Its heart is everywhere. It has no political party, because it is bigger than the parties.

It yearns for health care and economic security for all. It dreams of a day when no one goes bankrupt just because they get sick. If the sleeping giant is not being heard, it is only because it is asleep. A ballot initiative campaign would awaken it.

If you can contribute $5 or more to help us launch this campaign, please donate by clicking here. If you are willing to volunteer, please fill out our volunteer form here.

Most importantly of all, we have one final request: Please believe that we can win.

Thank you,

Luke Mayville & the Reclaim Idaho Team

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Share Your Healthcare Story

Last month, we completed a successful "Medicaid for Idaho" tour. With your support and encouragement, we refurbished our old camper into a “Medicaid Mobile” and we hit the road, making 20 stops from Bonners Ferry in the far north to Driggs in the southeast and back again.

 
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Everywhere we went we called on the Idaho legislature to do something about the 78,000 Idahoans who fall in the “Medicaid gap”—who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance. We highlighted the fact that our elected representatives have done nothing to address this issue in spite of the fact that 70 percent of Idahoans want to see our government take action.

We made it on TV, public radio, and local newspapers all across the state. We rallied in Farmers Markets and on bandstands. We spoke to gathered crowds in cities, we knocked on doors in tiny towns, we swarmed parking lots with flyers and sign-up sheets in communities where, we were told, no one would sympathize with our message. 

 
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In every community we visited, we found overwhelming support for the expansion of Medicaid. Even in rural parts of the state, in small towns like Emmett and Shoshone, we were approached by people eager to tell us of their struggles with Idaho's health care system and offer their support. It was an exhilarating experience to learn that we are not alone; that people all across the state share our commitment to affordable healthcare for all. 

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Thank you so much to all who gave your time, talent, and treasure to this effort, and to all who were brave enough to share your personal stories and speak up for the principle of affordable healthcare. Today, as we begin strategizing for the next phase, we need your help once again. Between now and next Friday, we will collect and compile as many personal healthcare stories as we can find. If you, a friend, or a family member have struggled with exorbitant healthcare costs--if, for example, you make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford quality healthcare--please share your story with us by sending an email to reclaimidaho@gmail.com with the subject line "My Healthcare Story." 

Even if your story is just a few sentences, please share! If you can write an entire paragraph or two--and even attach a photo--that would be even better. Please be sure to include your home town, age, and occupation. Once we've compiled your stories, we will begin a statewide storytelling campaign. We will work to make your voices heard on social media and in local newspapers in every corner of the state.

Out on the road, we heard countless stories of pain and economic insecurity, and we were endlessly inspired by the resilience that so many Idahoans have maintained in the face of despair. To give just one example, in Blackfoot we met a woman named Cherryl who had been diagnosed with a chronic heart condition and found herself unable to afford medication. In spite of her low income, she did not qualify for Medicaid because her husband’s meager retirement income places her family above the income limit.

When Cherryl spoke with a legal-aid assistant, she was told that she had three options. First, she could move to a different state with more generous healthcare policies. Given that her entire family lived in Idaho, this was out of the question. Second, she could contact her elected officials and demand that they reform the laws. She called and called, with zero success. There was a third and final option: She could get a divorce. This would separate her husband’s income from her own, and render her eligible for Medicaid. As Cherryl told us about this option, she broke into tears. We did too. Tragically, she later told us that she plans to divorce the man she has loved for 28 years.

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We believe that if the voters of this state hear stories like Cherryl’s, they will demand change. That’s why we’re gathering all of the stories we can find.

And this will only be the beginning, so stay tuned. We have big plans for the coming season, and within the coming month we will provide an update regarding our long-term goals. 
 
During our tour, we met so many inspiring individuals who were not only eager to share their story, but were also excited to join this movement. One example in particular comes to mind: a 91-year-old Bonners Ferry resident named Faye Morris. Faye was born in 1926. She came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War, and she lived to see the United States build the strongest middle class the world has ever known. She told us that she is joining our movement because when she looks at babies being born today, she is fearful about what this country will be like if those babies live to be 91. 

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Here's the remarkable thing: Faye didn't just show up to our picnic. She joined us after the event and knocked on doors with us. At that moment we couldn't help but think: If 91-year-old Faye Morris is willing to join this fight for affordable healthcare, there must be thousands more who will follow her lead. 

We cannot do this alone. But if we join together as a statewide movement from the Panhandle to Teton County, without regard for political party or ideology, we will change the conversation in this state. If we all do our part, we can make sure that every candidate running for office in 2018 is compelled to answer a simple question: Should quality, affordable healthcare be available to all Idahoans, or should it remain a special privilege for the well-to-do?

Please share your story with us. If you are able to make a financial contribution to this campaign, please donate here. Every little bit will help. Forward this newsletter to friends and family members. Most importantly, keep believing that change is possible when we organize around the values that unite us.

With Hope,

Luke, Garrett, Emily, and the Medicaid for Idaho Campaign

We Did It

Dear fellow citizens and friends of the Reclaim Idaho campaign,

We did it. Two months ago, all we had was a 1977 Dodge camper, a map of Idaho, and a sense of urgency.

We knew that there were 78,000 Idahoans who fall in the “Medicaid gap”—who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance. Here’s something else we knew: In spite of the fact that 70 percent of Idahoans want to see our government take action to address this problem, our elected representatives have done nothing.

With your support and encouragement, we refurbished our old camper into a “Medicaid Mobile,” and we hit the road on July 25th. Between then and now we made 20 stops from the Panhandle to the Tetons and back again.

We made it on TV, public radio, and local newspapers all across the state. We rallied in Farmers Markets and on bandstands. We spoke to gathered crowds in cities, we knocked on doors in tiny towns, we swarmed parking lots with flyers and sign-up sheets in communities where, we were told, no one would sympathize with our message.

In every community we visited, we found overwhelming support for the expansion of Medicaid.

We heard stories of hope. We met young Idahoans determined to run for office and older Idahoans engaging in the political process for the first time. We heard stories of pain: Cashiers and cooks who lost Medicaid coverage because they went out and got a job; young single mothers working two and three jobs to cover medical bills of relatives while also trying to raise children; people who will leave this state that they love, and who will leave family behind, simply because they can’t find affordable healthcare in Idaho.

Everywhere we went, we found resounding support for the policy of expanding Medicaid. We have a green camper covered in Sharpie signatures to prove it, and the towns written beside the names are not just Moscow and Boise. They’re also American Falls, Blanchard, Blackfoot, Wallace, Cottonwood, St. Maries, Priest River, Challis, Shelley, and so many more.

On Sunday we wrapped up our final stop at the Raspberry Festival near Cottonwood. The tour is finished, but this campaign is far from over. After hearing so many stories of pain and hope, we are more determined than ever to reclaim the best traditions of this state and this country.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to share stories and reflections from our time on the road. We’re convinced that if the voters of Idaho hear the stories we’ve heard, they will demand change in 2018.

For those who have joined this campaign, we will work in the coming weeks to develop a clear plan of action for how you can make a difference in November 2018. We firmly believe that this election cycle is an unprecedented opportunity to fight for strong public schools, protected public lands, and affordable healthcare for every Idahoan.

Stay tuned, stay engaged, and most importantly of all: Keep believing that we are all in this together, and that change is possible when we organize around the values that unite us.

-The Reclaim Idaho Team