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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Senate Health & Welfare kills interim study committee on ‘gap’ waiver

The Senate Health & Welfare Committee has just voted unanimously to kill HCR 63, the resolution to create an interim study committee to develop a waiver on health coverage for the “gap” population. Senators said the resolution contained statements with which they disagreed and that the Legislature hasn’t heard or endorsed, and that it would put off any coverage for the gap population until 2018 – something they didn’t want to do.

Brian Whitlock of the Idaho Hospital Association told the committee the resolution would “create a precedent that is not good policy for the state,” and “makes some statements that this Legislature has not adopted. So I would encourage you to not pass this resolution, but look for a meaningful way in how we proceed in seeking a waiver.”

Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, said, “Having served on Health & Welfare longer than anyone else in the Legislature at this time, I really feel and understand that it’s an executive branch decision to work with Health & Welfare for a waiver. To have Health & Welfare work on a wavier and then have the Legislature after all their work say we don’t like it, I think is going to be problematic.”

Sen. Abby Lee, R-Fruitland, said “They are the working poor. These are individuals who are stuck in a gap of policy that we have created in this state. And so I think that the information we have is pretty compelling that we need to do something. I certainly am not sitting here with the solution for what we should be doing. But I think that we need to continue to use the information that we have to really address this concern in our state. … I’m not sure that this particular resolution gets us there.”

Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, said, “I’m not sure that we can go on record, this committee can go on record and say that we’ve explored all the options. Another issue that I’ve got is it limits us to do anything until maybe fiscal year ‘18. And I think we need to come up with a solution prior to fiscal year ’18. So because of that, I’m afraid I’m going to have to vote in favor of the motion.”

Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, said some might not agree with the statements in the resolution, but he believes that it's clear that other states haven't seen benefits from expanding traditional Medicaid.

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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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