Forum: The Great Divide
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018, 11:45am-1:15pm
The Grove Hotel, Ballroom 2nd floor
Fred Birnbaum, Luke Mayville, Lauren Necochea
Voters in Idaho will decide if Medicaid should be expanded to include Idahoans in “the gap” — those who aren’t covered by their employer or another agency and cannot afford to buy health insurance, yet fall outside the income qualifications for Medicaid under current state laws.


Proponents say health care should be viewed as a basic human right, and that government has a role and obligation in stepping in. In addition, they believe that supporting access to health care among all populations could save money in the long run as well as boost health and wellness. Today, the costs faced by uninsured or underinsured Idahoans who face major health bills can land on counties required to help pay for indigent health care, and a state catastrophic fund that helps cover the costs. In total, the program has cost Idaho and its counties between $30 million and $50 million a year in the past few years.


Opponents disagree, arguing that expanding Medicaid for adults comes at the expense of programs for children and pregnant women — and takes away potential funding for roads, schools and other federal and state priorities. The opportunity for states to expand Medicaid stems from changes that were part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and opponents argue any expansion is a step toward a federally mandated and controlled health care system.


City Club has convened a panel including the major proponent and opponent of the initiative, and a nonprofit research organization to provide analysis on the “numbers” affecting this decision.


In true City Club fashion, this will not be a debate, but rather a civil discussion about an important decision facing voters this fall.


Speaker Biographies:


Fred Birnbaum joined the Idaho Freedom Foundation as vice president and chief operating officer after working 25 years in the paper and packaging industry. Most recently he served as director of business and financial analysis for Packaging Corporation of America (formerly Boise Inc.) and has lived in Boise since 2000. His experience in industry includes roles in finance, operations, project management and factory management. Fred served in the U.S. Army as a communication staff officer and platoon leader and worked briefly for US Senator John Glenn, as a Military Affairs Fellow, following his Army career He received his master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.


Luke Mayville, Reclaim Idaho, has recently taught civics and political philosophy at Columbia University and authored a book on President John Adams. He grew up in Sandpoint and attended North Idaho College before earning a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon and a PhD in political science from Yale University. He has served as Co-Chair of the Parish Pastoral Council at Blessed Sacrament Church, a Catholic parish where he also served as Chair of the Social Action Committee. In 2017 he co-founded Reclaim Idaho, a grassroots campaign to secure full funding for Idaho's public schools, protection of Idaho's public lands, and affordable healthcare for all Idaho citizens.


Lauren Necochea, Director of the Idaho Fiscal Policy Center, has directed programs for Jannus since 2011. Lauren previously oversaw and evaluated programs addressing children’s safety and health hazards for the Baltimore City Health Department. Prior to that, she was a policy fellow with joint appointments at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Princeton University’s Center for Health and Wellbeing. She has evaluated anti-poverty programs internationally and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study microfinance in Peru. Lauren earned her Master in Public Affairs at Princeton University and holds a B.A. in Economics from Pomona College.


Audio Recording


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Special Thanks to our Forum Sponsors Pacific Source and Saint Alphonsus.


City Club thanks our Premier Sponsor, AARP of Idaho and our annual sponsors, including Northwest Nazarene University, and Idaho Humanities Council. This Forum Series is sponsored by the contributions made by Micron, Echelon Group. We are pleased to welcome university students to attend our events thanks to our University partners Boise State University and University of Idaho. Our media partners include Peppershock Media, 670 KBOI, Idaho Statesman, and Boise State Public Radio.



Chair: Julia Robinson, DPA
Moderator: Bill Russell
Underwriters: Saint Alphonsus