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Medicaid expansion rally

Supporters of Medicaid expansion, organized by the Idaho

Community Action Network, rally on the Capitol steps Monday.

BOISE — A Medicaid expansion proposal has passed the signature threshold, officials confirmed on Thursday, but said further review is needed before it gets on the November ballot.

Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane says county clerks across the state have verified roughly 58,000 signatures that organizers submitted earlier this month.

The effort needed at least 56,192 signatures to qualify. However, those signatures must also come from 6 percent of the registered voters in at least 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts.

McGrane says it’ll be up to the state to determine if the signatures meet the legislative district requirements.

Reclaim Idaho, the group that organized the Medicaid expansion effort, did not immediately return a request for comment.

If successful, Idaho would join 32 other states and the District of Columbia in expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. Nebraska and Utah are currently in the midst of similar ballot initiatives, and Maine passed one last year

Under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. government pays at least 90 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid while states pick up the rest. Despite the savings promoted by Medicaid expansion supporters, Idaho lawmakers have long refused to consider the idea while also failing to come up with a solution to provide health coverage for Idahoans who currently don’t qualify for Medicaid or earn too much for a subsidy.

The Medicaid expansion plan is estimated to provide medical coverage up to 62,000 low-income people in Idaho.

No initiative has qualified for the Idaho ballot since state lawmakers passed strict qualification requirements in 2013 — a year after Idaho voters passed three referendum measures to overturn education reform laws approved by the Republican-dominated Legislature.

Both Republican Brad Little and Democrat Paulette Jordan, Idaho’s top nominees for governor, have promised to uphold the will of the voters if the Medicaid expansion initiative passes in November.

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