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Posts tagged: Idaho Medicaid

Federal judge halts one Medicaid cost-saving move, for now

A judge says Idaho can't switch to just one provider for some types of Medicaid services for the developmentally disabled until the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services decides whether the practice complies with federal law, the Associated Press reports. The decision from U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill was handed down Thursday — just one day before the state's contract with Community Partnerships of Idaho was to go into effect. The ruling keeps dozens of other residential habilitation companies across Idaho in business, at least for now; click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

Medicaid patients sue over change to certified family home regulation

Two men with developmental disabilities and their guardians are suing the state over a recent money-changing change to Idaho's Medicaid program, saying the state is violating their right to freely choose providers, the Associated Press reports. The two are seeking class-action status on behalf of all residents of Medicaid-covered certified family homes in Idaho. Idaho decided this year to contract with just one agency, rather than dozens, to oversee the state's 1,800 certified family homes; the move is expected to save the state $800,000, though it also means far fewer inspections of the homes and other changes. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.

How bad it could be…

The Medicaid shortfall that Idaho could face next year could require cutting as much as $500 million out of the state’s Medicaid program, Idaho Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong told the Legislature’s health care task force today, including $130 million in state funds. There are already about $75 million in cuts in Medicaid in the works to save money, from cutting rates paid to hospitals and nursing homes to trimming mental health benefits; if the larger shortfall materialized, those cuts would be just the tip of the iceberg. “Some of this is rather bad health policy, but we don’t have a choice at this point - we have to have a balanced budget,” Armstrong told lawmakers. “There will be lawsuits, there will be challenges. … As we look ahead, we are clearly very concerned about this all. This is a huge change that has to be made, and it will not be easy.”

Those figures are based on a projection that the federal match rate for Medicaid - now boosted by the economic stimulus legislation to 79.18 percent, or nearly 80 cents in federal money for every 20 cents the state spends - will drop to 68.85 percent in 2011. That’d force Idaho to come up with millions more to fund the program, and anything for which the state can’t fund the match would have to be eliminated. It’s possible that the federal match rate might not drop after all, but Armstrong said Idaho won’t know until long after it’s had to set its state budget. “We have to put a budget forward based on what we know now,” he said. Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, said that approach means “trying to make the most-vulnerable people, basically, pay to balance the budget.” Medicaid provides health coverage for Idaho’s poorest and disabled residents.

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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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