Bringing the Economy Home

Idaho Spends Nearly $200,000 To Study Medicaid Expansion

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A physician's assistant checks out a patient at a community health center. More than 236,000 Idahoans are currently enrolled in Medicaid, a health care program for low income Americans.

Idaho has spent at least $195,000 to study how expanding Medicaid could impact people and the state’s budget.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has contracted with two out-of-state consulting firms, Utah-based Leavitt Partners and Seattle-based Milliman.

Under the federal health reform law, which was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, states can decide whether to expand their Medicaid programs to include people living at 138 percent of the poverty line.  Estimates show, an expansion would add between 97,000 and 111,000 to the health care program in Idaho.  More than 236,000 Idahoans are currently on Medicaid.

Before the law was upheld, and before Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter formed two working groups to study a Medicaid expansion and a health insurance exchange, the Department of Health and Welfare was already contracting with Leavitt Partners to better understand what expanding Medicaid would look like.  That report was released at the end of September, and it cost $100,000.

Most recently, the department confirmed a contract with Milliman costing $95,000.  Department spokesperson Niki Forbing-Orr says the Milliman contract will focus on determining the cost of expanding Idaho’s Medicaid program — that’s something missing from the Leavitt report.

“This work has been contracted so the Medicaid expansion work group has all the tools it needs to make an informed recommendation to the governor,” says Forbing-Orr.

The Medicaid work group has planned its next meeting for October 23.  However, Forbing-Orr didn’t know if this latest report from Milliman will be completed by then.


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