Medicaid

Morgan / Flickr Creative Commons

A group of lawmakers met Monday at the Idaho Statehouse to continue a discussion about a possible expansion of Medicaid.

It was the fifth time the interim legislative committee met this year to figure out a solution for the estimated 78,000 people who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford insurance on the health exchange.

Kate Haake / AP

Anti-Medicaid expansion advocates are warning Idaho lawmakers that expanding the federal health care program designed to cover the poor will end up costing the state millions and do little to drive down medical fees.

Instead, those advocates on Wednesday urged the small legislative group tasked with reviewing Idaho's so-called Medicaid gap to consider supporting more charity care and finding jobs for the unemployed.

Medical, Health Care
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

In February, hundreds of people went to the statehouse to show their support for an expansion of Medicaid. About 30 people gave public testimony, sometimes tearfully asking lawmakers to grant health coverage to 78,000 low-income Idahoans.   

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho governor Butch Otter stood in front of reporters Monday and called the legislative session that ended Friday “pretty good.” Later in the press conference with legislative leaders he said lawmakers did a “tremendous job.” Lieutenant Governor Brad Little called it a “great session.” And Speaker of the House Scott Bedke recited a list of people he thought should be happy with it including teachers, students, firefighters and state employees.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building House Chambers
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Last month, Idaho Governor Butch Otter proposed a plan to provide health care to the estimated 78,000 Idahoans who don’t qualify for either Medicaid or subsidized health insurance under Idaho’s health exchange. The Primary Care Access Program would've subsidized basic doctor visits for those people, but last week a legislative committee voted against using tobacco settlement money to partially fund the $30 million proposal.

The Idaho Legislature's first-ever hearing on expanding Medicaid eligibility attracted hundreds of supporters Tuesday, but lawmakers declined to vote on whether to send the measure forward after listening to an hour of testimony.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee held an information hearing on a proposal that would expand Medicaid eligibility to cover everyone who earns less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt of Moscow introduced the legislation as a personal bill earlier this session.

A key Idaho Republican lawmaker has announced a surprising change of course for the Idaho Legislature, saying he has scheduled the first-ever hearing on a Medicaid expansion bill.

Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, told the Lewiston Tribune that he will allow a hearing to take place on February 2.

Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt of Moscow introduced the legislation as a personal bill earlier this session.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced a new proposal Thursday that he says would help low income Idahoans get health care.

The Primary Care Access Program (PCAP) still needs to be approved by the Idaho Legislature. It is designed to help adults 19-64 who don’t have health insurance.

Otter says Idaho doesn’t want to expand Medicaid and PCAP will help the 78,000 people who fall through the cracks of the current system.

Kaiser Family Foundation

According to a new Kaiser Family Foundation study, the 29 states that expanded Medicaid since the Affordable Care Act have – not surprisingly – witnessed increased enrollment and spending. Those states brought in new low-income enrollees that were not eligible before. In California alone, 3.4 million people were added to the state-run health insurance program.

Morgan / Flickr Creative Commons

Latinos in Idaho experience barriers that make the process of enrolling in healthcare through the state's  insurance exchange more challenging. That's according to a report released Thursday by a liberal advocacy group, the Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN).

Wally Gobetz / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Tuesday in favor of the State of Idaho in a fight over Medicaid payments to providers. The decision could impact Medicaid's low-income patients across the state. 

The case began after a 2009 lawsuit against the state. Officials with Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare had recommended increasing payment rates to private medical providers who serve Medicaid patients.

Zacklur / Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court says private sector health care companies cannot sue to force states to raise their Medicaid reimbursement rates to keep up with rising medical costs.

The justices ruled 5-4 Tuesday that the medical companies have no private right to enforce federal Medicaid funding laws against states if Congress has not created such a right.

Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers have directed their staff to spend the next nine months studying the state’s contract with Optum Idaho, the company that manages outpatient behavioral health services for Medicaid patients.

Stethescope, Health Care, Doctor, Medical
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Medicaid expansion supporters began their uphill journey Thursday in attempting to win over Idaho's Republican-controlled Statehouse where most lawmakers consider the idea politically toxic.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong tells the House and Senate Health and Welfare Committees that Idaho could save more than $173 million over the next 10 years by loosening its Medicaid eligibility.

An Idaho work group has tweaked its recommendations on expanding Medicaid eligibility in a last-minute effort to make their plan more politically palatable to lawmakers.

Work group facilitator Corey Surber says the 15-member group approved a hybrid model Friday. The group had finalized a proposal to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter back in August. However, lawmakers warned the proposal's blanketed support of Medicaid expansion would fail to even be considered when the Republican-controlled Legislature convenes in January.

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