After questioning why the bill contained only $5 million grants for two years, the Senate Health & Welfare Committee has voted unanimously to send HB 644 to the Senate's 14th Order for amendments. That's the bill the House passed yesterday to provide two years of $5 million grants to community health centers for increased services for the "gap" population, plus $400,000 for a study of that population.
Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, asked if Rep. John VanderWoude, R-Meridian, who presented the bill to the committee, had seen earlier studies of that population, including the Levitt study. VanderWoude said no. VanderWoude said, "The data is out there, it’s not tweaked."
Senate H&W Chairman Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, asked VanderWoude, “How did we come up with this sum of money for this grant?” VanderWoude replied, “This is what I felt could get through the House.”
Schmidt asked, “What do we get for this?” VanderWoude responded, “I guess it’s a trust issue. I trust them to use the money wisely. … I know their missions, I know their heart, I know what they’re trying to do, and I really think that they will use the money to best benefit of the population they are serving. And they will report back what they have gained by it.”
Schmidt said, "I'd like to know what we're getting for the money."
Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, questioned whether more money could be added to the grant program and still have it win House passage. VanderWoude said he didn’t think so, but said, “I’ve been wrong before, and not just once.” Hagedorn moved to send the bill to the Senate’s amending order, where any senator may offer amendments.
Schmidt spoke in support of the motion. “I’m still trying to get my arms around this,” he said. “I can see some places where we can make this better.”