The House debated hard over HB 180, the supplemental appropriation bill for the next phase of “Medicaid readiness,” or federally required changes to Idaho’s existing Medicaid program. Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, said, “We’re opening the door for Medicaid expansion, which can be a dangerous element in this state.” He said, “I really fear for Idaho financially to go down this road.”
Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said, “I hate to debate in favor of this bill, because as all of you know, I have restated my entire time in the Legislature any expansion of Medicaid. But I think you have to realize here that this is not the expansion piece. … That is not what we’re doing here.”
Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, told the House, “I don’t care if you guys think it’s the law. I suppose it is up to a point. … We don’t have to abide by it as a sovereign state if we don’t want to.” Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, “This is the time to send a message, if you want to send a message, and so I’m going to vote no.”
JFAC Vice Chair Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, said if the required changes aren’t made, Idaho’s Medicaid match rate from the federal government would suffer, costing the state more. And JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, said, “We have agencies who have to abide by the law, and it is the law. … This in no way puts policy in place for an expansion.” The bill then passed the House on a 48-21 vote; it now moves to the Senate.