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Idaho panel backs Medicaid expansion alternative

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Posted at 11:45 AM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 13:46:26-05

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's proposed alternative to Medicaid expansion has passed its first hurdle in the Idaho Legislature.

The $30 million plan -- dubbed the Idaho Primary Care Access Program --would provide basic health care services to the estimated 78,000 Idahoans who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but also don't qualify for health insurance subsidies.

The House Health and Welfare Committee introduced the bill Thursday.

Richard Armstrong, director of the state's Department of Health and Welfare, says the proposal that would provide primary care to Idaho's indigent population, but wouldn't cover expensive medication or hospitalization.

Last week, the Idaho Legislature had its first ever hearing on a contentious proposal to expand Medicaid eligibility. However, the panel declined to vote on the measure.

The proposal must clear both chambers before it lands on Otter's desk.