Whether or not Idaho expands Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, the state needs to pour more money into the program.
Health and Welfare Director Richard Armstrong told lawmakers Monday that Idaho’s current program will see a “huge influx” of people in 2014. That’s when the federal law requires all Americans to have health insurance. Armstrong says some of those without insurance, will turn to Medicaid. “We estimate there are approximately 35,000 who are technically eligible for Medicaid but who are not enrolled.”
The federal law also makes eligibility changes to the current Medicaid program in 2014. That means another 35,000 people in Idaho will be eligible to sign up. That’s a total of 70,000 new people who could end up on the rolls. “This is going to take a huge amount of work to get prepared, along with the resources and staffing to maintain a 30 percent caseload increase.”
Armstrong told lawmakers he needs more money to handle the projected increase. He’ll also need 38 more staff. The money for 22 of those positions could come from staff cutbacks at the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center, which helps the developmentally disabled.
Fewer residents are coming to the Center because of more community-based programs, leading to the possible cutbacks. The other 16 positions Armstrong wants for new Medicaid patients would require new funding from the Idaho Legislature.
Right now, there are 240,000 people on Medicaid in Idaho.
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio