The House has voted 49-20 in favor of HB 341, the Health & Welfare budget bill, after a debate that mostly featured objections to the big budget bill, which incorporates numerous smaller pieces that were debated separately in JFAC. House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said cutting funding for Medicaid services for the vulnerable isn't appropriate at a time when Medicaid enrollment is rising due to the economic downturn. “Are we really all in this together, or is it right to throw some citizens out of the lifeboat?” he asked. “The House has stated that it cannot increase the tax burden in the slightest, even through fees on criminals, not by taxing tobacco, not in any way,” Rusche said. “But look who are we going to look to for funding the budget shortfall - the medically and behaviorally vulnerable Idahoans.”
House Health & Welfare Chairwoman Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, speaking in favor of the budget bill, said, “This is a serious budget and we are spending a serious amount of money in Medicaid. We have got to get this budget under control, we have got to get this spending under control.” The bill now moves to the Senate.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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