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After much debate, House passes Medicaid readiness bill

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.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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