Gov. Butch Otter is calling for lawmakers to support his dual-waiver program to cover more Idahoans, without expanding Medicaid. “In my last legislative session as your governor, I am making one final attempt,” he said. “No longer should this body use my agreement not to act alone on Obamacare issues as a way to stop progress that will benefit Idaho citizens. We can no longer wait for Congress. This issue is too pressing, and it’s in our hands.” Lawmakers greeted that statement with loud applause.
Otter asked lawmakers to support the Idaho Health Care Plan, which calls for the waivers. “Simply put, it would stabilize Idaho’s healthcare insurance market and give more working Idaho families the ability to purchase affordable coverage,” he said. “The Idaho Health Care Plan gives us the opportunity to be both conservative and compassionate. It will enable those with the most costly, medically complex conditions to move their coverage to Medicaid during the course of their illness. That in turn will enable insurance companies to reduce their premium rates for the majority of people who remain in the individual marketplace.”
He added, “This is not expanding Medicaid. This is providing Idaho’s working families who have modest incomes a more affordable way to get the coverage they need. And it’s a matter of fairness for Idaho citizens who actually get less help with coverage under the so-called Affordable Care Act than non-citizens legally residing here.”
Otter’s budget calls for $17.4 million from the state general fund for the program, plus another $11.4 million from the Millennium Fund.
He’s also calling for funding for three new behavioral health crisis centers next year, covering the three remaining regions of the state: Lewiston, Canyon County and Pocatello. His requested funding of $2.6 million would start all three by the end of next year.