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Eye On Boise

Medicaid budget request for next year flat in state funds, as caseload growth slows

Overall, Gov. Butch Otter is recommending $476.7 million in state general funds for Medical Assistance Services, or Medicaid, next year, which is nearly flat - just a 0.5 percent increase from this year. Total funds, at $2.0667 billion, reflect a 7.6 percent increase, largely because of increased federal funds. The total number of positions requested for the program actually falls by three from the current year, from 208 to 205; they’re down from 269 last year. In total, the governor’s recommendation for the entire Department of Health & Welfare, including Medicaid, is for 2,886 positions next year, up from 2,863 this year; that’s an overall increase of just 23 positions, or a 0.8 percent staffing increase.

The Medicaid program returned $46.3 million from its budget to the general fund this year, mainly because caseload growth, which was over 10 percent at times during the recession years, has been dropping, and is now predicted at less than 2 percent for next year.

Idaho’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP – the rate at which the feds match state expenditures in the Medicaid program – will rise by part of a percentage in federal fiscal year 2014, which starts Oct. 1. Because the numbers are so big, that’s very significant. Idaho’s matching rate will go from 71.00 percent to 71.64 percent on Oct. 1. For next year, that means Idaho will get $11,786,200 more in federal funds for Medicaid, and will spend $11,786,200 less in state funds on the program. States with lower incomes get higher FMAP rates.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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