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Monday, July 13, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Five House GOP reps pledge not to vote for any bills next year ‘til Medicaid waiver

Three Republican members of the House Health & Welfare Committee this morning submitted formal letters to the committee pledging to vote against any bill, rule or measure that comes before the panel next year, regardless of the fiscal impact, until a waiver program to cover the gap population is presented and brought up for a vote in the full House, and two more GOP representatives on the panel said they’d do the same.

“What I am unwilling to tolerate is inaction,” declared Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa. She and Reps. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon, and Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, said they were unhappy with the two bills their committee was presented as the only options yesterday, HCR 63 for an interim study committee and HB 644 for a $5 million a year grant program to community clinics for two years, because they promised inaction. (This morning, HCR 63 was killed on a unanimous vote in the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, and HB 644 was sent to the Senate's 14th Order for amendments.)

“I do not believe Idaho’s current system of delivery of medical services, including Medicaid, the CAT fund … is effective, efficient or sustainable,” Perry said in her letter. “I am supportive of Medicaid reform towards the goal of a managed Medicaid program” aligned with Idaho’s current SHIP grant, which is transforming the existing state Medicaid program to a managed-care program.

Rep. Paul Romrell, R-St. Anthony, said he didn’t have a letter, but wanted to make the same pledge. “I was very uncomfortable yesterday. That was the only vote I had,” he said. Rep. Merrill Beyeler, R-Leador, echoed Romrell.

Troy said, “I chose to do something over nothing. I know those bills have caused much searching of the heart.”

House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, thanked the GOP representatives. “I really appreciate the message from the representatives and I truly value your statements,” he said. “Clearly the politics and not the policy dictated the bills that were presented.” He said that was a result of not considering bipartisan legislation, and instead leaving it to the majority caucus to decide which way to go. “I’m going to implore that the governor call a special session to address this issue,” he 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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