Guest Editorial Series: Stop Digging

The following editorial was published in the Post Register on Aug. 8, 2018.

What is the first rule of digging oneself into a hole? The answer: Stop digging. This principle applies to Idaho and the push to expand Medicaid: Stop digging a deeper hole.

Traditional Medicaid is primarily designed to provide medical care for low-income children, pregnant women, and the disabled. In Idaho, the cost of Medicaid has grown by leaps and bounds. During the last 12 years, from fiscal years 2007 to 2019 (projected), overall Medicaid spending has increased from $1.2 billion to $2.45 billion. Yes, Medicaid spending more than doubled. During that same period the state’s population growth has only been about 17 percent.

 

So Medicaid spending has grown more than 100 percent with a population growth of some 17 percent. During the same period, spending on K-12 education has increased approximately 40 percent. And, transportation spending has increased about 41 percent.

 

When we take population growth out of the equation and simply look at spending per Idahoan, Medicaid spending is growing three times as fast per person as K-12 education and transportation spending. All of these numbers are before the proposed Medicaid expansion is factored in.

With Proposition 2 on the November ballot, it is important to understand and consider the above costs, because Medicaid expansion proponents tell us that expansion will save Idahoans money. Yes, you read that right. They claim that providing able-bodied adults with 100 percent taxpayer-funded medical care will save the rest of us money. How so? They claim indigent care expenses will be reduced and that these able-bodied adults, who would receive “free” medical care, will use less medical care overall.

 

The problems with this thesis are obvious. How do you give someone a free service and then expect them to use it frugally? It simply makes no sense and that is fundamentally why Obamacare has been such a disaster. It is based on several false premises: if you try to force everyone into a top-down medical system costs will be reduced; if you give a large segment of the population free services that will lower overall costs; and, if you require everyone to purchase an insurance policy with 10 “essential benefits,” whether you want them or not, it will save money.

 

Yes, Obamacare is a black hole of medical spending and Medicaid expansion is the vortex. Now, a lot of people will point out that many states have expanded Medicaid so Idaho should follow the trend.

 

Let’s summarize the lessons from the other expansion states:

· On average, actual enrollments were more than double the projections.

· Costs were more than double the projections.

· Of the 12 million able-bodied adults added to Medicaid through expansion in other states, more than half are not working.

 

Just because you have a shovel in your hand, it doesn’t mean you should dig. Idaho, don’t dig a deeper Medicaid-expansion hole.

 

*Jared Gifford is the Youth Committee Person for the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee

Guest Column Series: Question the Medicaid Expansion Projections

It’s long been said, though the wise learn from experience, the super-wise learn from others’ experiences. I believe that. Thus, I urge all Idaho voters to diligently examine the effects of Medicaid expansion in other states.

The backers of the proposed costly Medicaid expansion plan present it as a panacea for almost everything that ails the Gem State. They promise incredible coverage for the uninsured and the creation of thousands of jobs, all with no impact on existing government services like education and road repair.

I’m not buying what they’re selling. Neither should you.

Across the country, 32 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid to primarily abled-bodied, childless adults as part of Obamacare. In the run up to expansion in each state, government officials and third-party groups projected enrollment numbers. These projections were used to sell expansion to voters, as well as make critical public policy and budget decisions.

Unfortunately, most of the projections were wrong, and wildly so, to the detriment of taxpayers. According to a January 2018 report by the Foundation for Government Accountability, California’s enrollment has exceeded early estimates by more than 320 percent. Likewise, enrollment in Colorado has exceeded projections by more than 100 percent.

This mathematical-sleight-of-hand matters because higher enrollments lead to higher-than-expected costs for taxpayers. Let’s look at projections in our own backyard. A 2016 report commissioned by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare guesses that expansion would cost Gem State taxpayers more than $220 million between 2021 and 2026. State officials project expansion in Idaho would cover more than 62,000 low-income individuals.

But, what if the estimates are wrong and Idaho, like most other expansion states, exceeds enrollment projections? If Idaho officials are incorrect, as many other states have been, and enrollment is higher than projected, the error would be a multi-million-dollar mistake with devastating impacts.

Foundation for Government Accountability research paints a much different picture about Idaho’s projected expansion enrollment and the associated costs. The foundation has concluded that Idaho’s expansion enrollment would be 35.2 percent higher than state officials predict. Translation: Idaho would extend coverage not to 62,000 people as forecast by state officials, the actual number would be nearly 84,000 people.

Regardless of which enrollment number is used, Medicaid expansion would gobble up a significant chunk of the state’s growing budget. The cost to cover the additional 22,000 people would take the five-year cost estimate from $223 million, as calculated by the accounting firm Milliman, to roughly $345 million. In sum, using FGA’s 84,000-person enrollment figure, its analysts predict that Idaho’s 10-year expansion costs would jump by 55 percent. That’s a startling figure for a state with a relatively small budget.

Compounding the potential cost problem above, we have the federal wild card: The above cost figures to Idahoans depend on the federal government keeping its funding promise. Currently, the feds would cover 90 percent of the bill for the new enrollees, and the would state pick up the rest. What if the federal government dropped the matching payment ratio to that of the traditional Medicaid population, where Idaho shoulders roughly 30 percent of the cost and Uncle Sam pays only 70 percent? The consequences would wreak havoc on the state budget.

In short, Medicaid expansion is fiscally dangerous. No one is certain how much the plan would cost you, the taxpayer, or how many people might enroll in the program. Even if someone could accurately predict those two figures, we can’t be certain that the debt-ridden federal government will maintain its promised Medicaid spending levels.

Regardless, any blend of the above endangers funding for the state’s top priorities. A massive spike in the Medicaid budget could mean fewer dollars for your kids’ classrooms, less money for road repairs, or higher taxes on hardworking families—or some combination of the three.

Let’s learn from other states’ mistakes. We can avoid the fiscal hardships that come with Obamacare expansion.

*Smith is the second vice chairman of the State of Idaho Republican Party and the fourth vice chairman of the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee.

Guest Column Series: Helping People of Our Own Volition

The following guest article was published in the Post Register on July 11.

Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman’s commentary, “Rendering personal assistance to people reflects who we are as Idahoans,” which described our moral obligation to render assistance to people in need, struck a chord with a lot of us on the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee. Hoffman’s correct. It’s the responsibility of individuals to help our neighbors in need.

It’s interesting that Idaho liberals often entertain the question, “What should be done to help the people in the Medicaid gap?” Conservatives and libertarians never said that nothing should be done. Far from it. Instead, we’ve consistently argued that we should render assistance to people in need. But the correct way to assist is through people offering help of their own volition. For the government to help is not the proper role of government.

How do conservatives understand the proper role of government? Well, according to the Idaho Republican Party Platform, the proper role of government is “to provide for the people on only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations.”

There are numerous organizations that exist—from churches to charities—whose mission it is to serve the poor. When the government intervenes and provides aid typically offered by people and private organizations, it undermines the ability of private groups to do good deeds and serve the greater community.

Moreover, it’s a fact that government services can be as hurtful as they are helpful. They tend to offer inferior services to that of the private sector, forcing the poor to have to navigate a labyrinth of bureaucrats and paperwork. At the end of the paper trail, the recipient of government assistance is usually assigned a form of aid that was designed by politicians and government lawyers, unspecific to the plight of the individual and commonly inadequate to help the person. Private organizations, however, are better equipped to provide the tailored services that are generally needed to yield real, long lasting results for those most vulnerable among us.

None of this implies or insists that people in need “fend for themselves” or be further victimized by their misfortunes. Rather, conservatives believe we have an obligation to help one another, to care for our neighbors in need, to prove assistance and to make a difference in our communities.

In his essay on the proper role of government, Ezra Taft Benson notes, “Right and wrong as moral principles do not change. They are applicable and reliable determinants whether the situations with which we deal are simple or complicated. There is always a right and wrong to every question which requires our solution.”

Benson continues, “Unlike the political opportunist, the true statesman values principle above popularity, and works to create popularity for those political principles which are wise and just.”

Though it is popular in certain corridors these days to measure politicians’ or political parties’ love and caring by the number of government programs they create, conservatives feel differently. Our measure of success really should be the number of people we free from government programs and dependency.

Doyle Beck

Bonneville County LD 30 Chairman

BCRCC Announces Independence Day Scholarship!

FB_IMG_1529081704093The Bonneville County Republican Central Committee are thrilled to announce an annual Independence Day Essay Scholarship opportunity for Bonneville County Students!

As we approach Independence Day with it’s compliment of fireworks, BBQ, and parades we will also be given the chance to remember the greater meaning behind our celebrations. For as Rudyard Kipling noted, “All we have of freedom, all we use or know — This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.”

Such reverent remembrance ensures that the freedom we celebrate with a well-seasoned frank or a festive float shall remain ever more in this shining city on a hill. We are Republicans because, as our platform reminds us, “We believe the United States Constitution is the greatest and most inspired document to govern a nation, and the republican form of government it gives us is the best guarantor of freedom in history.” The Bonneville County Republican Party believes there is no greater responsibility than to help to instill the same respect we have for our Republic and it’s founding documents in future generations. Recognizing, as former President Reagan noted, that, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

In this spirit, the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee are pleased to announce the launch of an annual Independence Day Essay Scholarship for Bonneville County’s graduating and incoming High School seniors. We invite our future generation of leaders to think deeply on “What Independence Day Means” to them and to distill those thoughts into a 500-1000 word essay. The BCRCC will review these essays and award a first and second place entry with a scholarship in the amount of $500 and $250 respectively. We ask that applicants submit their essays electronically to BCRCC 2nd Vice Chairman, John Henager, via email at jbhenager@gmail.com by July 1st. Additional guidelines and information are outlined in the first comment on this thread.

As Republicans we believe in a platform which states, “… the future of this great state lies with our faith and reliance on God our Creator, in our strong efforts to uphold family values, and in the quality of education provided for its citizens. We believe that successful education is a joint responsibility of the individual, the family, and the community.”

We are pleased to offer this community opportunity for our students to contemplate the greater meaning of our Independence Day and to reward their efforts and assist in their pursuance of further educational achievements. As always, we invite you all to become more involved in your local Bonneville County Republican Party and look forward to joining you this 4th of July as we celebrate the incredible opportunities afforded to each of us by this great country.

BCRCC Independence Day Scholarship Guidlines:

Applicants must submit an essay on the topic, “What Independence Day Means to Me.” Submissions should be anywhere from 500-1000 words in length and must be the authors original work. All submissions should be in 12pt Times New Roman font, double spaced, 1” margins, and include a cover page. Please do not include any identifying information anywhere but the cover page. Eligible applicants must be incoming seniors for the 2018-2019 academic year or graduating seniors from the 2017-2018 academic year currently residing in Bonneville County, Idaho. All submissions must be received by July 1st, 2018. All essays received will be reviewed anonymously by a standing subcommittee of the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee who will select a 1st and 2nd place essay to be awarded a $500.00 and $250.00 scholarship respectively. Scholarships will be awarded no later than July 3rd, 2018. Through submission all applicants agree to release publishing and reproductions rights of their work to the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee. Submissions should be submitted electronically to BCRCC 2nd Vice-Chairman, John Henager, via email at jbhenager@gmail.com.

Bonneville County Elects Party Leadership

🎉CONGRATULATIONS to the newly elected Bonneville County GOP Executive Committee and Legislative District Leadership!


 

After the May 15 election, each of the newly elected precinct officers were required to come together in a reorganizational meeting to be sworn into office and vote on new party leadership for the upcoming term. This meeting occurred Thursday night, May 24, 2018 at the Bonneville County Courthouse.

Here are the results of the elections:

Chairman- Mark Fuller
1st Vice Chair- Rusty Cannon
2nd Vice Chair- John Henager
3rd Vice Chair- Nicholas Contos
4th Vice Chair- Bryan Smith
Secretary-Ann Burt
Treasurer- Morna Starks

State Committeewoman- Karie Caldwell
State Committeman- Tony Potts
State Youth Committeeperson- Jared Gifford

After the conclusion of the county voting period, Legislative Districts 30 and 33 held brief meetings to determine their District Chair, Vice Chair(s) and Secretary. Here are the results of the Legislative District elections:

District 30-
Chairman- Doyle Beck
1st Vice Chair- Lisa Keller
2nd Vice Chair- Adam Frugoli
Secretary- Myleah Keller

District 33-
Chairman- Kirk Larsen
1st Vice Chair- Tony Potts
Secretary- Morna Starks

Delegates for the upcoming state GOP convention were also voted on and selected at the county meeting.

Bonneville GOP Selects Nominees to Replace Senator Bart Davis

Bonneville GOP Legislative District sends nominees to replace Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis to Governor C.L. Butch Otter

Idaho Falls, Idaho, September 28, 2017 –
Republican Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis of Legislative District 33 was sworn in as U.S. Attorney for the State of Idaho on September 22, 2017, creating a vacancy in the state Senate when Senator Davis resigned on September 21, 2017.
Davis is a 10-term state Senator from Idaho Falls with a private legal practice focusing on corporate litigation, bankruptcy and real estate law. He’s served as the state Senate majority leader for 15 years.
Davis was sworn in on Thursday as the state’s new U.S. Attorney in a ceremony in Pocatello. “I am humbled and honored to continue to serve the great people of Idaho as United States Attorney. I am grateful for the special trust and confidence shown me by President Trump, Attorney General Sessions, Senator Crapo, Senator Risch, and all of those who supported me throughout this process. I inherit a very capable office and look forward to joining them in continuing to do great things.” Davis said.
Legislative Chairman Stafford Smith said, “Seventeen individuals have the opportunity to participate in something monumental. We congratulate and thank Senator Davis and wish him the very best in his new assignment.”
Pursuant to Idaho State code and the Idaho State Republican Party State Rules, the Legislative District 33 Republican Committee has selected three nominees to fill this vacancy. Governor C.L. Butch Otter will appoint one of the following nominees within 15 days:
Mark Fuller
Representative Bryan Zollinger
Tony Potts
John Henager, Second Vice Chairman, said, “The Bonneville County Republican Central Committee was pleased to nominate Mark Fuller to replace outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis. We know Mark will serve the citizens of LD33 in the same principled, honest, and utterly capable manner with which he has approached so many local service and political projects. We look forward to Governor Otter’s swift confirmation.”
About The Bonneville County Republican Central Committee: The Bonneville County Republican Central Committee is a political entity created by Idaho statute that has 51 Precincts. Each precinct elects its Precinct Committee Officer, who votes on the platform and other topics at the County and State Party level.
Paid for by the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee- Morna Starks, Treasurer