Gov. Butch Otter's "Primary Care Access Program" bill was introduced in the House Health & Welfare Committee this morning on a unanimous vote, after just a couple of technical questions from committee members. That clears the way for a full hearing on the $30 million a year proposal, which would provide some basic primary and preventive care to the 78,000 Idahoans who now fall into a coverage gap, making too little to qualify for subsidized health insurance on the state insurance exchange, and not qualifying for Medicaid, because Idaho hasn't expanded Medicaid to cover low-income, non-disabled adults.
Idaho Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong presented the bill; he and Otter's budget director, Jani Revier, answered the lawmakers' questions. Next, the measure will be assigned a bill number and go up on the Legislature's website for anyone to see.
Later in its meeting, the panel heard a presentation on Idaho’s community health centers and what they do; they’re key to the PCAP plan, as they’re among the clinics across the state at which participants in the program would be assigned to a “patient-centered medical home.” AP reporter Kathryn Haake has a full report here.
Mike Baker, CEO of Heritage Health in North Idaho, said, “We love the creative solutions that are coming out of this. Health centers do a lot of work with this population.” PCAP, he said, would be “good at identifying people that are really sick and need to get into primary care. I don’t think it’s the whole solution, but we love that it’s creative and that people are thinking outside the box and willing to do something different.”
He and Heidi Traylor, CEO of Terry Reilly Health Service, will give the presentation again this afternoon to the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, which meets at 3 p.m. in Room WW54 of the Capitol.
Tomorrow morning, both committees will hold a joint public hearing in the Lincoln Auditorium from 8-10 a.m. on health and welfare programs and issues; anyone may testify. Speakers will be limited to three minutes apiece.