Two supplemental appropriations to the state Department of Welfare related to “Medicaid readiness,” covering fund transfers to deal with programming changes and so forth as federal Medicaid rules change, caused a bit of dust-up in JFAC last week, with several members raising concerns that approving the requests would be bowing to Obamacare and possible expansion of Medicaid. Today, both requests were approved on unanimous votes, and those concerns had evaporated. A statement of legislative intent was added clarifying that the funding moves don’t relate to the optional Medicaid expansion on which Idaho lawmakers have not yet weighed in.
Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, said, “The concerns I had on this particular budget item have been addressed for now. There are some deeper ones, but for this particular budget item I don’t have any particular concerns.”
Said Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, “Just a comment and expression of gratitude to our staff, and to also the department staff for their work and for all of the effort that they put in to bring us along and make sure that we understood the issues. Thank you so much.” The two requests involve mostly transfers of federal funds within programs and make no bottom-line difference in the department’s current-year budget; Gov. Butch Otter had recommended approval of both.