Idaho submits Medicaid expansion plan for federal review

Posted at 1:58 PM, Feb 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-16 15:58:31-05

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho officials have sent a Medicaid expansion plan to the federal government for approval.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare sent the proposal to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Post Register reported in a story on Friday.

Department of Health and Welfare spokeswoman Lisa Hettinger said it could take several months before the state hears back from the federal agency.

The state agency is also accepting public comments on the changes to Medicaid until March 22.

Voters authorized Medicaid expansion in November through an initiative called Prop 2 after years of inaction by the Legislature. The expansion will provide access to preventative health care services for about 91,000 low-income Idaho residents, according to a risk management company hired by the state. The federal government will pay for 90 percent of the estimated $400 million cost.

“Prop 2 didn’t call for anything beyond what they’re calling a simple Medicaid expansion,” Hettinger said.

Idaho lawmakers are currently looking at ways to pay the state’s share, and Gov. Brad Little has included it in his budget. One bill has been introduced that would end the Medicaid expansion if the federal funding ratio of 90 percent drops and the Idaho Legislature doesn’t take action.

That bill also authorizes an optional workforce training program. It would also require the state to apply for a federal waiver to require some potential Medicaid recipients to be covered instead by Your Health Idaho, the state exchange health insurance program.

It’s anticipated other bills involving Medicaid expansion will also be introduced, possibly altering the plan approved by voters if they are passed into law.

“Depending on what the change is, we can always redraw and submit, or simply withdraw and go back to the drawing board and start over if Proposition 2 is amended in such a way that our current request is no longer valid with the federal government,” Hettinger said. “States do that routinely. It’s a very normal practice.”