Idaho House panel wants Medicaid bill with work requirements amended

An Idaho legislative panel wants a compromise Medicaid expansion bill with mandatory work requirements amended in the full House.

The Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday voted to send to the House for amending the measure that has already passed the Senate. The legislation is an attempt to reach a compromise that can clear both chambers and get Republican Governor Brad Little’s signature.

The Senate previously passed an appropriations bill paying for Medicaid expansion as approved by voters, while Little included $20 million for the expansion in his budget. However, the House has refused to vote on the appropriations measure, and instead, passed a bill with penalties that would kick people off Medicaid after 60 days if they didn’t meet work requirements. The Senate bill requires able-bodied Medicaid recipients who fail to meet the work requirements to make a copay when seeking medical services, but it does not kick them off Medicaid.

Voters authorized Medicaid expansion without work requirements in an initiative in November with 61 percent of the vote, providing access to preventative health care services for an estimated 91,000 low-income residents. The federal government would cover 90 percent of the estimated $400 million cost. The bill would also seek a waiver from the federal government to allow people earning 100 to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to stay on the state’s health insurance exchange rather than go on Medicaid if they choose.

Idaho Republican lawmakers continue their push for work requirements despite a federal judge’s ruling last week blocking similar Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky. (AP)

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