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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Testimony: Serious problems with Optum, DD services rules, lack of coverage…

In continuing testimony at the Health & Welfare listening session in the Lincoln Auditorium this morning, more than a dozen people have spoken so far. They’ve pleaded for expansion of Medicaid in Idaho; highlighted perverse incentives in current policies for developmental disability services that are limiting clients’ 24-hour home support services if they participate in job services, causing many to stop working; and pointing out serious problems providers are having with Optum, the contractor that Health & Welfare selected last April to manage the state’s outpatient behavioral health services under Medicaid.

House Health & Welfare Chairman Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, asked for a show of hands of all those who are here to testify about Optum; at least a dozen raised their hands. Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, said he’s heard from a constituent who tried to contact Optum, and, “They were on hold for over seven hours. … I think it’s important that the record show that that’s a serious issue.” Other lawmakers said they, too, have heard from constituents with serious concerns about Optum.

“We are aware of Optum’s issues,” Heider said. “We’ve counseled with Optum, we’ve gotten promises from Optum. … We’re trying to resolve those issues, for your knowledge.”

Laura Scuri told the legislators, “I need you to direct Optum and the department to work with provider associations. … The system that we’re using right now will be catastrophic in the near future, for providers and clients. That’s what we’re trying to prevent.”

Genevieve Sylvia told the committees of the serious health problems she’s experiencing, with few options. “I don’t qualify for Obamacare, I don’t make enough,” she said.

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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