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Medicaid budget approved on 17-1 vote

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee has voted 17-1 on the budget for Idaho’s Medicaid program for next year, with just Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, objecting.

Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, said, “Many of us have struggled to get our arms around this budget. I do think it’s worth looking and expressing my concerns with where we’re headed.” He said he fears that the need to fund Medicaid in the future could impact other state budgets, from education to corrections. “As budget writers, we struggle,” he said. “I will be supporting this budget, but boy, it’s tough. And I hope in the near future we can cap this.”

Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, said, “I’m concerned that it’s too low, that there are going to be more people coming than we think.” She said she’s concerned about Idaho families going into bankruptcy due to their inability to cover their medical costs. “There is a huge cost to not having health care in Idaho,” she said. “And having worked 30 years in hospitals, I know that there is a huge cost to not getting health care. … I think this is a really complicated budget and I hope we guessed correctly.”

Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, said he’s been closely watching Medicaid for several years now. “I’m encouraged with what our Department of Health & Welfare is doing in this area,” he said. “I do share concerns of both Rep. King, that this might not be enough, but also Sen. Mortimer, that this is going to impact budgets, but I think this is a compromise at this time.”

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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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