Medicaid

Idaho's 2013 Medicaid Rolls At Highest Level Yet

Feb 6, 2014
Medicaid
Data: Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare | Chart: Emilie Ritter Saunders

The number of low-income Idahoans on Medicaid increased 3.5 percent in 2013, a figure the Idaho Department of  Health and Welfare says marks a slow-down in growth of the program.

On average, 236,352 Idahoans were signed up for Medicaid each month of 2013. That's the highest average monthly enrollment the state has ever recorded.

capitol, statehouse, idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The House Health and Welfare Committee rejected a proposal to increase health care coverage for low-income Idahoans, putting the final nail in the coffin of Medicaid expansion hopes.

Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, had promoted the bill as a way to help the state's poor, who are particularly vulnerable without coverage, as well as save hospitals and businesses millions.

medical stock, scale, healthcare
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

House Minority Leader John Rusche has been promised a hearing on expanding Medicaid eligibility in Idaho, though Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has thrown cold water on the idea going forward this year.

Rusche says House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Fred Wood, a Republican from Burley, acquiesced to his request for a bill introduction.

Rusche isn't optimistic about his proposal's chances, but he's happy it will at least get an initial vetting.

Mental health professionals blasted a private company managing behavioral health care for low-income Idaho residents, saying the system is plagued with hours-long delays that could put their clients at risk.

A joint House and Senate Health and Welfare Committee meeting Friday provided a venue to criticize Optum, a Minnesota-based health care services management company.

Since September, it's being paid $10.5 million monthly to administer outpatient behavioral health services for Idaho's Medicaid program as the state seeks to as it seeks to control costs.

Dentist
Defence Images / Flickr Creative Commons

Trying to reduce Medicaid's dental expenses has been like pulling teeth.

That's what Department of Health and Welfare officials said Tuesday, describing how a decision in 2011 to dump dental coverage for 27,000 adults led to a doubling of dental-related emergency room services.

The Spokesman-Review reports monthly emergency-room costs rose to $65,000 now, from just $30,000 two years ago.

Republicans dampened expectations about broadening Medicaid eligibility this year, saying they want to overhaul Idaho's existing system to encourage beneficiaries to take more responsibility.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill told reporters Friday taking more federal money without revamping government-backed health care for the poor and disabled wasn't acceptable.

President Obama's health care overhaul envisioned adding more low-income single people to the entitlement program, but the U.S. Supreme Court left the decision up to states.

emergency room, hospital
Chealion / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study has found that previously uninsured people who were given health coverage through Medicaid used the emergency room 40 percent more than others who weren't able to join the program.

The findings were published Thursday by the journal Science. They suggest that hospitals and health officials around the nation need to be prepared for an increase in emergency room trips as millions of Americans gain insurance this week under the federal health care law, many of them through Medicaid.

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

An Idaho business group urged Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to study how Arkansas won permission from Washington, D.C., to use federal Medicaid funding to help poor people buy private insurance.

The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry sent Otter a letter Friday, calling Arkansas' program a "market solution" that was of great interest to members that include hospitals St. Luke's Health System and Saint Alphonsus Health System.

Idaho and Oregon are among the states that have seen a decrease in the number of uninsured.

Map: Rural Idaho Counties Have Largest Share Of Uninsured People

Aug 29, 2013
Map, insurance
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The number of uninsured Idahoans has dropped to its lowest level since 2007. Data released Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 18.9 percent of Idahoans under the age of 65 didn't have health insurance in 2011. That marks a decline in the share of uninsured Idahoans since 2010 when the rate was 20.3 percent.

incurable_hippie / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's lawsuit against several major pharmaceutical companies over allegations of inflated drug prices has come to an end with the state recovering more than $28 million in damages.

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

An Idaho pro-business lobbying group says a decision by Idaho lawmakers not to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income residents will cost $12.3 million to $18.5 million a year in penalties for large companies that don't insure their employees.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry also says it will cost an unspecified amount for businesses whose insurance and taxes subsidize care for the uninsured.

Mitchell Ponting
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

When the 2013 legislative session wraps up, a big policy question will remain: Will the state make Medicaid available to a greater number of Idaho’s poor? The federal health care law encourages that move. It’s a debate that involves potential costs and savings, along with patient well-being. And it turns quickly to chronic conditions, like mental illness.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Last year, we told you about a group of stakeholders working together to create a state plan to help Alzheimer’s patients and their families.  The Idaho Alzheimer's Planning Group has now released that plan. 

State of Idaho

A Republican lawmaker says he will bring forward a bill to expand Idaho's Medicaid program this week. That's after Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said lawmakers should wait on the issue.

Rep. Tom Loertscher (R-Bone) plans to introduce two bills on Thursday.

One would dissolve Idaho's Catastrophic Health Care Program. That's the program that helps medically indigent Idahoans who don't qualify for state or federal health care aid.

Pages