BOISE — A bill introduced March 22 by the chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee won’t pass this legislative session, but will instead serve as a launching point for future discussion on Medicaid funding.
The bill from Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, would shift county spending on indigent health care to a Medicaid Expansion Fund. The bill isn’t expected to advance to the full House, per conversations with House and Senate leadership, but an interim committee will meet between this legislative session and the next to discuss the issue further, Wood said.
“We’re going to introduce this [bill] today as a starting point,” Wood said.
The interim committee will meet to discuss how to redirect money from county indigent programs to help pay for the expansion of Medicaid, which 61 percent of voters approved through a ballot initiative in November.
“This will be a starting point for discussion for the interim committee, and we’ll be back next session,” Wood said of the bill.
Along with shifting county funding from indigent care to Medicaid expansion, the bill would create a separate Medicaid Expansion Fund for county money within the Medical Assistance Account. It would also redirect the current $5 fee from seat belt fines from the Catastrophic Healthcare Program to the Medicaid Expansion Fund.
The bill would also limit eligibility for the County Indigency Program.
A fiscal note for the bill estimated a cost of about $19.2 million a year for counties if 91,000 people are covered by Medicaid expansion, but savings of $6.75 million from the administrative and legal costs of the current indigent program.
While Wood’s bill won’t advance further this session, two other bills addressing Medicaid are currently moving through the House and Senate. On Thursday, a House bill to attach mandatory 20-hour-a-week work requirements to Medicaid expansion passed the House. That same day, a Senate bill that would implement a voluntary work and training program for Medicaid recipients was cleared by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
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