The Legislature’s joint Health Care Task Force has just voted unanimously to request the governor and the Health & Welfare Department to shift funds within the department to restore Idaho’s child immunization program through Jan. 1. Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, said, “Based on the conversation we’ve heard today, it seems like in the end this may ultimately be a cost savings. … We seem to be defeating some of the actions that we’ve taken in the past by not agreeing to this recommendation.” Former Govs. Phil Batt and Dirk Kempthorne both made raising Idaho’s dismally low child immunizations top priorities during their administrations.
Task Force Co-Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, warned that the Legislature will have to come up with money to keep the program going in January. “What the department is facing for their budget, particularly in Medicaid, in 2010 and 2011 - it isn’t pretty,” he said. But, he said, “I believe there’s actual evidence that the lack of immunization actually costs us more.” Health & Welfare official Dick Schultz said the department will follow whatever course the governor sets. “It would certainly buy us some time,” he said. “There was certainly some consternation on everyone’s part going into this.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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