Idaho GOP gubernatorial candidate Raul Labrador on Tuesday criticized news coverage of his recent remarks on an Idaho Medicaid expansion initiative.
Labrador told the Idaho Statesman during a live Facebook discussion that he believes previous media reports and headlines incorrectly characterized his statement — that he would review all possible choices on what to do, including undoing the measure, should the initiative pass.
“I have to look at all the options. I think it would be irresponsible for me to not look at all the options. I never once said that I would be working to overturn it,” he said.
That’s exactly what he told The Spokesman-Review last week — “I would look at all the options” — according to an article headlined “Idaho Rep. Labrador opens door to overturning Medicaid expansion initiative if voters pass it.” The article, which the Statesman later republished under a similar headline, said Labrador would “consider working to overturn the voter-passed initiative” should he be elected, but not that he had decided to do so.
Organizers of the Medicaid expansion vote said Monday they believe they have enough signatures for the issue to qualify for the November ballot.
Before even that vote, Labrador said, he will first try to convince Idaho voters not to pass the initiative because he does not think it will save the state money, and he believes it won’t produce its promised results.
“That is going to be part of my agenda, convincing people that Medicaid expansion is not the right thing for Idaho,” he said.
And if, in November, the Medicaid expansion initiative does pass and Labrador is elected governor, what will he do when January rolls around?
“If the ballot initiative passes, we need to treat it like any other piece of legislation. We need to determine what is the cost to the state, how it is going to affect other services,” he said.
“I am going to look at the pros and cons. Maybe they will convince me that we are saving money and it is actually better for the state. But I do not believe that right now, but I will look at both sides.”
The other two leading GOP candidates have both said they do not support Medicaid expansion.
Lt. Gov. Brad Little said during a recent debate that he “will adhere to the will of the voters” if they pass the initiative.
Tommy Ahlquist said he supports Medicaid reform, but not expansion, and if the initiative passes, he would work with lawmakers to find a “better solution.”
Cynthia Sewell is the Idaho Statesman politics and watchdog reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, (208) 377-6428 or @CynthiaSewell on Twitter.