Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, told the Legislature’s interim committee on the health coverage gap that he favors steps to “reduce medical costs for everyone, not just those in the gap.” He called for a limited, state-funded primary care access program for people with chronic illnesses, to serve 15,000 to 30,000 of the 78,000 Idahoans in the health coverage gap.
“When we are talking about those in the gap population, to weave this with some other policies that actually reduce medical costs for everybody, so it’d benefit taxpayers, state employees, school employees, city and county employees, businesses, and not just provide medical services for those with limited access,” Thayn said.
“If we want to reduce costs, we have to renew our focus on primary care,” Thayn said. He outlined tools he said would reduce medical costs: Funded HSAs for some groups, renewed focus on primary care, and changing how primary care is funded, as with the state’s current move, through its SHIP grant, to shift from a fee-for-service model to a patient-centered medical home model.
Thayn said his idea is to provide primary care for adults under 100 percent of the federal poverty level who have chronic health issues, giving preference for those with “life coaches” and imposing lifetime limits, using state funds and state rules. “The overall goal is to move the needle on poverty,” he said, encouraging people to be more self-sufficient. He’s proposing spending $15 million to $30 million, which he said would provide access to care for 15,000 to 30,000 of the 78,000 Idahoans in the health coverage gap.
Other lawmakers on the panel had questions about how the proposal would address the rest of the gap population.