Bill Adding Restrictions To Idaho's Medicaid Expansion Introduced

Mar 4, 2019

Idaho House lawmakers have introduced a bill that would add several restrictions and requirements to the state’s voter-approved Medicaid expansion program.

The seven parts of the bill would tack on everything from work requirements to allowing those eligible for the expansion to stay on Idaho’s health insurance exchange.

“I believe there’s always a benefit if we can help people move off of a government program and be self-sustaining,” says Rep. John Vander Woude (R-Nampa), who’s sponsoring the measure.

The work requirement would only apply to those who don’t have children under 18 years old. However, there’s confusion as to whether or not people currently enrolled in Medicaid would be forced to work, too.

Vander Woude says he intends for it to apply only to the expansion.

These changes are expected to cost the state about $1.5 million annually.

However, the fiscal analysis doesn’t include how much money counties might have to spend to cover the healthcare emergencies of those who are either kicked out of the program or are no longer eligible.

Counties have historically paid for up to $11,000 of an indigent person’s medical bills, with the state picking up other eligible costs.

House Assistant Minority Leader Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) was one of three Democrats on the House Health and Welfare Committee who voted against introducing the bill. She says the will of the voters is clear.

“They want us to implement clean Medicaid expansion, exactly as passed,” Rubel says.

The bill would also require the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to ask about an applicant’s drug use history and refer them to treatment, limit retroactive eligibility for the program to 30 days and force the House and Senate to review Medicaid expansion no later than Jan. 31, 2023.

Other pieces of the proposal would automatically repeal the expansion if the federal government forces states to pay more than 10 percent of the costs and extend Medicaid coverage to adults with mental illnesses who are institutionalized in hospitals or nursing facilities.

Many of these proposals would need approval from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services even if Idaho lawmakers sign off on them.

The public will get to comment on the bill next before it can go to the full House.

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