I am struggling with a plumbing problem. No, it’s not my prostate, though you’d be forgiven for assuming such, given my age and decrepitude. It’s a 350# cast iron bathtub. I asked the plumbers if they could install it. They winced and asked if this summer would work. So, I cut the holes and bought the fittings, but the darn thing just won’t hook up. Tomorrow I’m calling the plumbers. I’ll bring them cookies.
Getting professional help should not be shameful. That’s what the Office of Performance Evaluation does for the Idaho legislature and us citizens. We should all read their reports before turning to Netflix. Or maybe late at night when sleep won’t come.
The reports don’t read like romance novels, but they sure captivated me when I first got elected to the legislature. They had a trove of evaluations and recommendations for fixing our state. So, it bothers me that the Idaho Republican legislature is planning to politicize this independent, nonpartisan, award-winning office. They are working just fine. What are they trying to fix? And for what purpose? This move is unwise.
It shouldn’t surprise me. OPE has provided no studies on pornography in libraries or gender reassignment surgery or the deadly MRNA vaccines. These are the issues our Republican legislature wants to pass laws about. Fixing EMS funding, evaluating Medicaid payments and reducing prison recidivism just aren’t red meat.
The proposal is to dismantle the balanced bipartisan Oversight Committee that directs the proposals and instead leave the direction to the Majority run Legislative council. Representative Blanksma successfully got this change through the House. There were only two Republican votes against it. Her arguments were that the Majority legislative leadership can be as unbiased as a balanced bipartisan committee. Sorry, I just don’t believe it. Democrats, if they were in the majority can be just as biased as Republicans. Be careful how you build things.
However, I am pleased to compliment Representative Blanksma for addressing maternal and child health. Her proposal would expand Medicaid health insurance coverage for children up to 205% of the federal poverty level. We are currently one of two states (Idaho and North Dakota) that doesn’t cover kids at this level.
Her proposal also recommends maternal Medicaid coverage be expanded to 12 months after delivery. It currently shuts off at 60 days. We are with 13 other states with such weak support for our moms. Of course, there is a price tag for this. So I can imagine some strong Freedom Foundation opposition.
Blanksma’s bill is sitting in House Health and Welfare Committee, awaiting a public hearing.
Getting advice or recommendations from independent people who study issues in our state is not always welcome nor heeded by our esteemed legislators.
Maybe that’s why the independent Maternal Mortality Review Committee is looking at the axe. This body was established in 2019, with a sunset date of July 2023. The bill to remove the sunset date is also sitting in the House H&W committee.
It’s no wonder they might sunset. They may have delivered some unwelcome news. Maternal deaths have doubled in Idaho since the MMRC was established. Their recommendations were to expand Medicaid coverage for moms to 12 months after delivery. So, Blanksma’s Maternal Child Medicaid Expansion coverage is addressing this recommendation. Good for her. I hope she has as much success getting this health bill through the House as she did with the OPE restructuring.
I know there’s a certain unpopularity about listening to experts. It has been openly expressed in our Idaho legislature. But don’t wait for a cast iron bathtub to convince you. Experience and knowledge are valuable. Wise people don’t shun such advice.