Bringing the Economy Home

Should Idaho Expand Its Medicaid Program? Some Answers Could Lie Here

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The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare now has a $100,000 study on Idaho’s Medicaid program in its hands.  The department commissioned the study in April, in preparation for the Medicaid expansion that was then required under the Affordable Care Act.

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, which made the Medicaid expansion optional for states, the study has gained even greater relevance.  It’s expected to inform the decision that now awaits Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter: should the state expand Medicaid eligibility, or not?

A working group established by Gov. Otter shortly after the Supreme Court upheld the federal law in June is now weighing the state’s options.  Potential cost was a main question mark at the group’s first meeting in August. 

There’s hope that this report, from Utah-based Leavitt Partners, could help decision-makers get a better handle on that aspect of the expansion option.  The report evaluates who would become eligible under the expansion, including what programs they currently use, their health needs, and what Medicaid benefits they may require.

Early on, Idaho lawmakers and others maintained that the state could save money by opting to extend Medicaid eligibility to those below 138 percent of the poverty line. That’s in part because the federal government will cover much of the cost of the expansion.  However, understanding just how many people the expansion may cover and how they may take advantage of that eligibility allows a better estimate of likely costs.

We’ll have more on this report soon.  For now, here it is.


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