Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho lawmakers optimistic about closing coverage gap

BOISE – Idaho lawmakers on a special committee examining options for addressing the state’s health coverage gap met most of the day Monday without reaching any consensus, but the panel’s co-chairs say they’re optimistic the state will take will take action to close the gap during the upcoming 2017 legislative session.

“The chances of it are better than they’ve ever been,” said Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, the House co-chair of the joint legislative panel. The panel set its final meeting for Nov. 22, when it’ll review a report back to the full Legislature.

Because Idaho hasn’t expanded its very limited Medicaid program under the national Affordable Care Act, an estimated 78,000 Idahoans fall into a gap – they don’t qualify for Medicaid, but they make too little to qualify for subsidized insurance through the state’s successful health insurance exchange.

Idaho lawmakers have looked into tapping federal Medicaid expansion funds for an Idaho-designed managed care program; using state funds for primary care for the gap population; and various other options. “I think what Idaho legislators really are looking for is an Idaho solution, not a federal solution,” Loertscher said.

Two study groups appointed by Gov. Butch Otter recommended accepting the federal funds to provide coverage for the gap group.