The Senate has voted 22-11 in favor of HB 341, the budget bill for the state Department of Health & Welfare, which includes the Medicaid program. Opponents included freshman Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, who said people have been writing to him, telling him that lawmakers aren't doing enough for Medicaid. “I submit to you we can't afford to do more than we're doing,” Vick told the Senate, “and perhaps we're doing too much already.” The budget bill now heads to the governor's desk.
Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, decried the cuts, then told the Senate, “I guess what I would say is this is a done deal, and what I hope is next year we can do an awful lot better.” Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, the bill's sponsor and the Senate's Health & Welfare vice-chairwoman, said, “It's never easy when we're dealing with programs for the indigent and those who can't take care of themselves.” Broadsword said lawmakers will be watching “to make sure that the cuts made this year don't cause permanent harm. I think we'll all look forward to better economic times.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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