Eye On Boise

H&W chairs from both houses call for restoring some of last year's Medicaid cuts

House Health & Welfare Chair Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, calls for restoring some of last year's Medicaid cuts; at left is Senate Health & Welfare Chair Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, who made the same request. (Betsy Russell)
House Health & Welfare Chair Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, calls for restoring some of last year's Medicaid cuts; at left is Senate Health & Welfare Chair Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, who made the same request. (Betsy Russell)

House Health & Welfare Chair Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, told legislative budget writers, "In reviewing the budget before you with Medicaid specifically, it strikes me the enormity of what is before us. ... It's simply unsustainable. ... I'm struck by the enormity of the challenges." She said she's been examining requests to restore some pieces of the $35 million in service cuts in Medicaid that lawmakers approved last year, and urged JFAC to restore "whatever you feel can fit within your budget," including services to patients with both mental illness and developmental disability; eliminating the "tiered budget approach for adults," and "working to restore preventive dental services to all of those in the enhanced plan if possible."

McGeachin said her committee has "gone into extensive review" of Medicaid readiness, a set of federal guidelines that Idaho must meet to continue to get its current rate of federal matching funds for Medicaid, and concluded that it's needed and will "really increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our programs."

Senate Health & Welfare Chair Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, also asked for restoration for some of last year's Medicaid cuts, including no longer making those with both developmental disabilities and mental illness choose which condition to treat, and expanding dental services, at least for those in certain programs for people with disabilities. Lodge also called for funding a state suicide hotline, noting Idaho's high suicide rate.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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