Health care legislation backed by a half-dozen House Republicans was introduced by a unanimous vote of the House Ways & Means Committee today. House Majority Caucus Chair John VanderWoude, R-Nampa, said, “I sat on the interim committee during last session and one of the conclusions we came to, that it was important to try to provide primary care. But also, as we try to provide primary care, to try to make sure it’s accountable and to try to improve the system. So this does several different things.”
The bill is aimed at improving health care in Idaho by increasing the number of family medicine residency slots; creating a loan forgiveness program to help community health centers recruit doctors; and directing hospitals to help patients enroll in primary care instead of visiting emergency rooms, through a new Idaho Coordinated Care Program, which would be available to people in Idaho’s health coverage gap and also to some people already on Medicaid, and would provide some care coordinated care including annual health screenings and diabetes management.
“There’s a lot in this thing, but I think it’s a good step in the right direction,” VanderWoude said.
He and Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, said after the meeting that they’re hoping the bill can advance this year. “That’s what we’re going to be pushing for,” Malek said. “We do want to see the concept move forward.”
The bill doesn’t specify funding, but anticipates a “trailer” funding bill to put money into the loan repayment program and the primary care access program.
Other representatives involved in the bill include Reps. Luker, Kerby, Redman and Dayley.