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Sunday, September 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Otter on health coverage gap: ‘The need still exists’

A “trailer” funding measure for the health-care bill that died on the final day of this year’s legislative session was vetoed by Gov. Butch Otter today. HB 650 would have transferred $400,000 from the state general fund and $5 million from the Millennium Fund, which comes from tobacco settlement proceeds, next year to pay for data collection on Idaho’s gap population and grants to the state’s community health centers to step up services to that group of Idahoans, estimated at 78,000, who make too little to qualify for subsidized insurance through Idaho’s state exchange but too much to qualify for Medicaid.

The funding bill was designed to “trail” after, or follow, HB 644, which included both the grant program and directions to the state to apply for a waiver from federal authorities to tap Medicaid expansion funds for a block grant, to pay for a new Idaho-designed managed care plan to cover the gap group. Without HB 644, which the Senate passed on its final day but the House killed, the funding bill didn’t do anything.

Otter, in his veto message, said the bills, HB 644 and HB 650, “were placebos, not a panacea to address the healthcare needs of 78,000 Idahoans. The need still exists and I hope we can summon the resolve to finally address the issue during the next session of the Idaho Legislature.”

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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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