Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Idaho state of mind

Idaho has a confounding and peculiar state of mind that can leave observers speechless and gaping.
    One new example involves Medicaid, the state-run program that provides desperately poor adults and children with medical care by using a combination of federal and state funds.
    Faced with expansions of Medicaid called for under the Affordable Health Care Act that would actually save state- and county-taxpayers money, Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney and Majority Leader Mike Moyle are insisting that the state shouldn’t sign on because they are suspicious of “Obamacare.”
    The U.S. Supreme Court recently prohibited the federal government from forcing states to expand Medicaid to cover more people. However, by signing on, Idaho could save heaps of money, at least $300 million over six years, according to a conservative estimate in a Kaiser Foundation study. Other estimates peg the savings as high as $380 million.
    Idaho currently pays medical bills of the poor with a combination of Medicaid funds, a state-funded Catastrophic Health Care Fund and county indigent funds. Yet, even though Medicaid expansion would reduce the state and local tax burden for Idahoans, state leaders are insisting, “No way.”
    It’s the Idaho state of mind.
    A second example is the case of Sierra Harr, the champion female golfer who played on the Castleford High School boys’ golf team that won the state 2-A championship in May. She was allowed to play on the boys’ team because too few girls had gone out for golf at the school. Harr is the third highest ranked girl golfer in Idaho.
    This month, the Idaho High School Activities Association will consider a rule change that would end her eligibility to play on the boys’ team. Some disgruntled coaches of competing teams complained and want IHSAA to consider whether Harr’s participation is unfair to boys who could be bumped from a team or deprived of a title by a talented girl.
    If these matters leave you scratching your head, you’re not alone. They would make sense only if it were possible to blame them on the effects of the smoke from wild fires in the West this year.
    Unfortunately, the only explanation possible is the inexplicable Idaho state of mind wherein state leaders cut the pockets out of our jeans so the money runs out and then call it saving money. Or, they turn back the clock to the attitudes of the 1950s toward female athletes in public schools.
    OK, all together: Sighhhhhhhh.

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