With just one “no” vote, from Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, the Senate Health & Welfare Committee has approved a rule implementing cuts in Medicaid that reduce treatment hours for adults and children with disabilities. The House Health & Welfare Committee will take up the same rule on Monday, but rules stand unless the panels in both houses reject them. Advocates who oppose the cuts said they’re still holding onto a glimmer of hope.
The committees’ actions still must be formalized in omnibus concurrent resolutions that pass both houses. Katherine Hansen, government affairs chair for the Idaho Association of Development Disabilities Agencies, noted that the House committee has scheduled its hearing for a larger room at the Idaho Supreme Court, to accommodate the expected large crowd. “From this point, I think what we’re trying to do partly is to make sure that everyone recognizes there will be the opportunity to look at this next year,” Hansen said. Her agency will closely track the effect of the cuts on disabled Idahoans, and provide detailed, quarterly reports to lawmakers. “What I hear from a number of them is they don’t want to make these cuts,” she said. Kelly Buckland, executive director of the State Independent Living Council, said, “They’re saying they have to save money … but I don’t think they’ll save money, I think they’ll end up actually spending more money. It only takes a couple people to have to go into an institution to eat up all the savings from this.”