Legislative Session Is Almost Over

It has been a busy and unpredictable legislative session this year, and as we wind down, we want to say thank you to all our advocates who took action, contacted Legislators, shared information, and supported our efforts to help build a healthier Idaho!

Throughout the session we’ve had to focus on defending expanded Medicaid and the funding to provide healthcare for approximately 145,000 Idahoans. Both the House and Senate Health & Welfare Committees, as well as the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee and leadership in both bodies questioned the Director of the Department of Health and Welfare, and the Medicaid Division Administrator, among others in how dollars were being spent, how the state was working within federal and state guidelines, and how to reduce costs across the board. Several bills were introduced to make changes to Medicaid Expansion, including H123, which would repeal the entire Expanded Medicaid program, and other legislation like H176, H200, H214, and H366 which would all make significant changes to the program through managed care, work requirements, capping or removing specific programs (dental in particular) and other changes we cannot support. Along with partners, we managed to generate enough opposition to prevent passage of any of these efforts.

However, HCR9 is one that is likely to pass, and would set up a task force to conduct analysis on Medicaid Managed Care for recommendation next session. If the task force is approved and appointed, we’ll be monitoring progress to ensure no Idahoans lose access to health care through these efforts.

Another priority effort that was caught up in the negotiations was our legislation to extend postpartum Medicaid benefits, increasing eligibility and extending coverage from 60 days to a full year. Despite having the House Majority Leader as the primary sponsor, and strong support from a range of partners and legislators, the legislation was not given a hearing. In one day over 100 calls and emails were sent to the House Health and Welfare Committee, with a focus on the chairman, Representative Vander Woude.  Requests to give the bill a hearing could not overcome the concerns of the chair on the current costs of Medicaid. He announced in committee that he wanted to see how changes in Medicaid enrollment after the expiration of the public health emergency, as well as other adjustments would impact the budget before further changes were considered. We will definitely bring this legislation back in the 2024 Session, and hold legislators to promises made.

In the end it was mixed results for our efforts around Medicaid, however given the large number of freshmen legislators, and changes in leadership and committee makeup, we can be pleased with where we ended this year. And we thank all of you for your efforts and lending your voice to ensure we keep access to healthcare available to all, and keep moving toward a healthier Idaho!

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