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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

House votes unanimously to reverse three of last year’s Medicaid cuts

Legislation sponsored by House Health & Welfare Chair Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, to restore $1.5 million of last year's $35 million in Medicaid cuts has passed the House on a unanimous 65-0 vote. McGeachin told the House that when the original cuts were made, “We may not have fully understood the unintended consequences that may arise from that. ... We also sometimes just don't get it right the first time. ... This bill seeks to restore certain cuts that we made last year because of some of the things that we've heard. When we went home last year, we all started hearing concerns in our communities.” McGeachin added, “The improved environment in our economy allows for us to reinstate some of these cuts.”

The bill, HB 609, restores three cuts: It removes a clause that forced patients with both developmental disabilities and mental illness to choose which of the two conditions they want treated; it restores preventive dental care for the disabled, though not for others; and it deletes a requirement to impose a “tiered” budget on developmentally disabled adults that forced big cuts in some of those people's care. Together, restoring the three cuts will cost the state general fund $1.5 million next year; the state also will get back millions in federal matching funds.

Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, said, “We passed some tax relief, meaningful tax relief, a couple of days ago in this body. Would this bill have any impact on that moving forward in the other body?” McGeachin answered no. “My sense is that the reason why we pass tax reductions is to stimulate the economy,” she said. “It will in turn generate more revenues for the state budget. That's the view I take, so I say no.”

The bill now moves to the Senate; it's co-sponsored by Senate Health & Welfare Chair Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, Vice Chair Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle; and House Health & Welfare Vice Chair Carlos Bilbao, R-Emmett, and McGeachin said all worked closely with the state Medicaid Division and with JFAC. The bill needed to pass the House today, she said, so JFAC can set the Medicaid budget tomorrow morning.

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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