Richard Armstrong

Idaho Governor's Office

Idaho Governor Butch Otter announced Wednesday he has picked a new head of the state’s Health and Welfare Department.

Otter is appointing Russ Barron to head the agency. Barron is deputy director and a longtime administrator at Health and Welfare.

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.

Whether or not Idaho expands Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, the state needs to pour more money into the program.

nooccar / Flickr

Who will be eligible for Medicaid if Idaho expands its program under the Affordable Care Act?  That’s the question lawmakers asked Monday of state Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong.  He’s part of a 15 member panel studying the option. 

Armstrong says the panel has gathered a lot of information so far.  But he says the federal government has not set some of the guidelines that will determine who would get to sign up for the expanded plan.  That means officials are left to guess how many residents would eligible.