Idaho Division of Welfare Administrator Russ Barron explained the MAGI, or Modified Adjusted Gross Income calculations, that Idaho must comply with under changes in the national health care reform law. Those change the way eligibility is calculated for the existing Medicaid program, and likely will result in about 25,000 more Idahoans qualifying for Medicaid, Barron said. JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, commented, “I’m a little troubled by the acronym MAGI, I don’t exactly see the gold in there or the gifting of it.”
Between those mandatory changes and the “woodwork effect” that Idaho anticipates when more people become aware that they’re already qualified for Medicaid, another 35,000 or so additional Medicaid recipients could come in. To handle those increased eligibility determinations for 60,000 potential new enrollees, Barron said the division first estimated it’d need 88 more full-time positions. Then it revised that downward, and downward again, and again. Now, it’s at 22 positions. “I assure you that 22 positions is the absolute minimum amount needed to determine Medicaid eligibility” for the expanded program, he said. Without those positions, “Performance across all programs will diminish.”
Gov. Butch Otter has recommended funding the 22 positions. Overall, the Division of Welfare’s budget request for next year reflects a 6.4 percent increase in state general funds, to $2.4 million; in total funds, it’s a 4.4 percent increase to $6.08 million.