Idaho – Last Chance for Federal Medicaid Funds?

Recently, we promoted Idaho on our list of states to watch on health care. This week may prove why, and it’s only Tuesday.  The Spokesman reports that on Friday, the Idaho Workgroup on Medicaid Expansion sent a letter to Gov. Otter noting “Medicaid expansion will save Idaho more money than previously thought and that no expansion will cost the state more than previously thought.” Independent actuarial analysis found that a January 1, 2014 start date will save the state $84 million over ten years while a six month delay will cost taxpayers $40.5 million. Push that back to 18 months and Idaho loses out on $124 million in savings. Of course, unless the governor and Legislature act soon, delays will be the only option on the menu.

As the end of session nears, the Workgroup isn’t alone in its sense of urgency. The Statesman reported that yesterday House Minority Leader Rusche (D-Lewiston) attempted to invoke parliamentary procedure to force the House Health and Welfare Committee to hold a hearing on Medicaid Expansion. The motion was struck down by voice vote. Reportedly, Speaker Bedke later reinforced his position that Medicaid Expansion will not be considered this session.

Meanwhile, NPR’s StateImpact speculates as to whether Idaho might follow in the footsteps of Arkansas, who won approval for use of federal Medicaid expansion funds to purchase private insurance.  According to the article, Austin Frakt of Boston University speculates you may end up paying more for less, but it may mitigate some of the problems including low Medicaid provider reimbursements.