Fact check on cam­paign fliers for Idaho Propo­si­tions 1, 2

The Idaho Statesman (Sunday) - - NEWS - BY KELLEN BROWNING kbrown­ing@mc­clatchydc.com

The last half of Oc­to­ber pro­duced a flurry of printed cam­paign ad­ver­tise­ments on Idaho’s two statewide bal­lot mea­sures.

Propo­si­tion 1 would re­store his­tor­i­cal horse rac­ing to the state. Propo­si­tion 2 would ex­pand Med­ic­aid el­i­gi­bil­ity in Idaho.

With just days to go be­fore Elec­tion Day, here are some re­cent claims we’ve seen in mail­ers that reached vot­ers’ doors.


Claim: 62,000 more Ida­hoans will be­come el­i­gi­ble for Med­ic­aid un­der the ex­pan­sion.

Fact check: The num­ber is ac­tu­ally higher, ac­cord­ing to an Idaho Depart­ment of Health and Wel­fare re­port on the ex­pan­sion. An es­ti­mated 91,000 peo­ple will gain cov­er­age: 59,000 in the “cov­er­age gap” — mean­ing their in­come is less than or equal to 100 per­cent of the fed­eral poverty level, mak­ing them cur­rently in­el­i­gi­ble for Med­ic­aid or fed­eral premium as­sis­tance — and 32,000 whose in­come is be­tween 100 and 138 per­cent of the fed­eral poverty level. That num­ber is an es­ti­mate based on his­tor­i­cally low un­em­ploy­ment num­bers, among other things, and could change de­pend­ing on the econ­omy.

Claim: Ex­pand­ing Med­ic­aid will save tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in lo­cal taxes each year by re­duc­ing un­paid med­i­cal bills and ex­pen­sive emer­gency room vis­its.

Fact check: Health and Wel­fare’s re­port does not specif­i­cally ad­dress costs of med­i­cal bills or ER vis­its. It es­ti­mates the ex­pan­sion will cost Idaho $45 mil­lion per year, but save $40 mil­lion in state and lo­cal bud­get off­sets, in­clud­ing costs cur­rently in­curred by Idaho’s county in­di­gent and cat­a­strophic health care funds. Af­ter sav­ings, the cost of ex­pan­sion from 2020-2030 is es­ti­mated at $105 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to depart­ment spokes­woman Niki Forb­ing-orr.

Claim: Ex­pand­ing Med­ic­aid will bring $400 mil­lion of tax money back to Idaho from Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Fact check: Idaho would re­ceive more fed­eral funds if Med­ic­aid is ex­panded, but there’s no spe­cific pot of Idaho tax dol­lars that’s be­ing with­held from the state, or money ear­marked for Idaho that’s be­ing cur­rently used for some other pur­pose in D.C. That’s ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice, which pro­vides non­par­ti­san anal­y­sis to Con­gress.

Claim: Med­ic­aid ex­pan­sion will keep ru­ral hospi­tals and clin­ics open.

Fact check: The ru­ral hospi­tals them­selves say this is true, and that the ad­di­tional pay­ments they’d re­ceive from in­sured pa­tients would be enough to ad­dress their poor fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tions. With­out Med­ic­aid ex­pan­sion, “I don’t know that we would be here five years down the road,” said Lenne Bon­ner, pres­i­dent of Clearwater Val­ley Hospi­tal and Clin­ics and St. Mary’s Hospi­tal, in a pre­vi­ous States­man and Idaho Re­ports story.

Claim: Med­ic­aid ex­pan­sion will cre­ate 5,000 new jobs.

Fact check: A 2018 study con­ducted by the Uni­ver­sity of Idaho and spon­sored by the Idaho Hospi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mated ex­pan­sion would cre­ate 5,389 new jobs.

The States­man has not re­ceived any mail­ers ad­vo­cat­ing a “no” vote on Prop 2.


Claim: Trea­sure Val­ley Rac­ing will do­nate 100 per­cent of its net prof­its to a foun­da­tion.

Fact check: Trea­sure Val­ley Rac­ing has in­deed made this pledge, although the propo­si­tion’s lan­guage does not re­quire it. Todd Dvo­rak, a spokesman for the propo­si­tion’s pro­po­nents, said “the foun­da­tion’s ar­ti­cles of in­cor­po­ra­tion have been filed with the Idaho sec­re­tary of state and the foun­da­tion has been seeded with $100,000.” The com­pany op­er­ates one of Idaho’s horse tracks, al­beit the state’s big­gest, Les Bois, and its pledge does not cover all prof­its from horse rac­ing in the state.

Claim: Propo­si­tion 1 will cre­ate jobs and pro­vide mil­lions of dol­lars to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

Fact check: Boise State Uni­ver­sity’s eco­nom­ics depart­ment stud­ied this in 2015. The study found that horse rac­ing and bet­ting at Les Bois Park di­rectly or in­di­rectly em­ployed 536 peo­ple and con­trib­uted to $35 mil­lion in sales in the Trea­sure Val­ley com­mu­nity.

Claim: The Coeur d’alene Casino is spend­ing mil­lions of dol­lars spread­ing lies about Propo­si­tion 1, and deny­ing Ida­hoans hun­dreds of jobs and fund­ing for schools.

Fact check: The Coeur D’alene Tribe, which op­er­ates the casino, has in­deed spent $2.5 mil­lion op­pos­ing Propo­si­tion 1, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign fi­nance re­ports filed with the Idaho Sec­re­tary of State’s Of­fice. The propo­si­tion would cre­ate jobs and fund schools. Both sides in the bit­ter cam­paign have ac­cused each other of ly­ing.


Claim: Money made from horse rac­ing from 2013-2015 that was sup­posed to go to schools and lo­cal breed­ers was il­le­gally taken and mis­spent.

Fact check: When his­tor­i­cal horse rac­ing was le­gal from 2013 to 2015, the law split a frac­tion of its pro­ceeds among sev­eral groups, in­clud­ing horse breed­ers and pub­lic schools. In ad­di­tion, money that re­mained at the end of the year in the ac­count in­tended for horse breed­ers was sup­posed to also be redi­rected to schools. A 2015 state au­dit of the Idaho Rac­ing Com­mis­sion found $ 72,000 that re­mained in the breed­ers’ ac­count at the end of

2014 was later given to breed­ers, not schools. The com­mis­sion re­quested the money back once it learned of the prob­lem, and Dvo­rak said the money was even­tu­ally re­turned to the schools.

Claim: Casino own­ers will make 18 times as much money from Propo­si­tion 1 as Idaho schools will.

Fact check: The use of the words “casino own­ers,” paired with an image of a man with a large cigar in his mouth, in a mailer paid for by tribes that op­er­ate ac­tual casi­nos pro­voked strong ob­jec­tions from Trea­sure Val­ley Rac­ing. But it’s true that the his­tor­i­cal rac­ing ma­chine op­er­a­tors will keep 9 cents from every dol­lar wa­gered; that money is not all profit, but also cov­ers ex­penses and race purses, ac­cord­ing to States­man re­port­ing. A half-cent would go to lo­cal schools, so the math is cor­rect.

Claim: Propo­si­tion 1 sup­port­ers have doc­tored news re­ports and lied in TV ad­ver­tise­ments.

Fact check: One cam­paign ad­ver­tise­ment funded by Trea­sure Val­ley Rac­ing edited a news clip from a KTVB fact check, chang­ing it from “Our Joe Par­ris ver­i­fies if those claims are ac­cu­rate” to “ver­i­fies those claims are ac­cu­rate,” ac­cord­ing to States­man re­port­ing. Dvo­rak at­trib­uted the change to a mis­un­der­stand­ing of the sen­tence, and said the peo­ple mak­ing the ad did not in­tend to be mis­lead­ing. Both sides in the bit­ter cam­paign have ac­cused each other of ly­ing.

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