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Bill that could void Idaho Medicaid expansion to get hearing

February 12, 2019

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A Senate panel voted Monday to hold a hearing on legislation to drop Medicaid expansion in Idaho if the federal government changes the percentage it pays for the program.

The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Mary Souza of Coeur d’Alene also authorizes an optional workforce training program. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted 5-4 to hold the hearing.

The legislation would end Medicaid expansion if the federal funding ratio of 90 percent drops and the Idaho Legislature doesn’t take action.

The bill “contains a clause that makes Medicaid expansion stop, null and void, if the federal funding ratio changes,” Souza said. “But the Legislature at that time also has the opportunity to keep expansion going if they so choose.”

The legislation also contains a clause requiring a review of the program during the 2023 Legislative session.

Voters authorized Medicaid expansion in November after years of inaction by the Legislature. The expansion will provide access to preventative health care services for about 91,000 low-income Idaho residents, according to a risk management company hired by the state.

“My preference has always been simply to fund it,” said Republican Sen. Fred Martin, who voted no. “I feel very strong about trying to abide by the will of my constituents.”

Democrat Maryanne Jordan prevented an attempt by Souza to have her bill and a number of others introduced without discussion. She said she had concerns about possibly voiding Medicaid expansion if the federal funding level changed.

“I get very concerned about binding future Legislatures to a particular percentage without them having the opportunity to do the analysis at the time the change takes place,” she said. “I think this is very much in opposition to what the voters asked us to do.”

The state Supreme Court last week ruled that the voter-approved initiative was legal following a challenge from a conservative group that argued it was unconstitutional.

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