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Gov. Little recommends millennium fund go toward Medicaid expansion, not recovery centers

Posted at 10:43 PM, Jan 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-17 00:43:01-05

BOISE — Governor Brad Little proposes a budget recommendation to use the majority of Idaho's millennium fund to cover the state's share of Medicaid expansion, and that has people worried about funding for recovery centers.

The millennium fund comes from a settlement reached with tobacco companies and in recent years, it has gone to help recovery center's across Idaho. But this year, those funds may be going elsewhere.

"I fear that the recovery centers future is not very bright if there is not a way of establishing a state and local partnership," said Norma Jaeger, Executive Director for Recovery Idaho, who believes that partnership is needed in order to create funding for the nine state recovery centers located throughout Idaho.

"Recovery centers were originally provided startup funding by the millennium fund, about three years ago, since that time they've attempted to raise local funds, with varying degrees of success," said Jaeger.

But with a low reserve and hopes for expansion to more rural communities, Recovery Idaho went back to square one, applying for aid through the millennium fund, which is money that comes to the state from tobacco companies as a result of a lawsuit where 48 states sued tobacco companies for marketing to minors. Now each year, those states receive money from the ruling; Idaho included.

"It is money that comes to the state, it is not ear-marked, some states just put it in their general fund, we have tried to use it for tobacco-related items, but we are not mandated to use it in that way," said State Senator Fred Martin.

And this year, Governor Brad Little recommends $12,642,500 from that $17,602,600 balance, go to fund the state's share of Medicaid expansion, not state recovery centers.

"It was an ideal source to get them up and going, but I think it needs to be transferred to the general fund," said Martin.

But that doesn't rule out recovery help completely. Alex Adams with the division of financial management emphasized the governor's pledge in his State of the State address that his administration will tackle the scourge of opioid abuse. Governor Little recommends setting aside $4.2-million to develop a system of prevention, monitoring, and treating opioid related addiction.

"Getting people into treatment is important, keeping people on a recovery pathway after treatment is maybe as important or more important," said Jaeger.

And Senator Martin assures he supports both the concept and the funding for those centers, with hopes monies for them, can come from the general fund.