Credit: Kyle Pfannenstiel
The House Health & Welfare Committee hearing public testimony Feb. 7.
As of Friday, February 9, 2018
BOISE After three hours of public testimony and debate, an Idaho House panel voted 7-5 Feb. 7 to send the Idaho Health Care Plan to the floor.
The plan, HB 464, would enact two waivers aimed at reducing premiums. One aims to close the Medicaid gap by waiving the tax credit ban for those who make less than 100 percent of the federal poverty limit. Officials estimate roughly 36,000 Idahoans will be insured after its passage.
Another would move those with “medically complex condition” from the private insurance market to Medicaid, in hopes of reducing rates and incentivizing the “healthy” to get insurance. A recent addition to the plan were work requirements for “able-bodied” adult Medicaid recipients.
A key concern among legislators was the lack of guarantees of how the bill would be implemented.
Many spoke in overwhelming favor of specific waivers in the plan, but they often disagreed on others. A large portion of those that spoke out against parts of the bill supported it because they saw it as a good start.
“I can only vote on the bill that’s in front of me, and the bill that’s in front of me is a very substantial improvement on the status quo and it will get people really needed care,” said House Assistant Minority Leader Ilana Rubel. “It will save lives. It’s not how I would have crafted it but it’s a big improvement over leaving people with nothing. We either do nothing, or something.”
Rep. Megan Blanksma, R-Hammett, said she supported the waiver aimed at closing the Medicaid gap, but had some reservations on the waiver on costly conditions.
“When you have a chronic condition or a severe illness, that doctor becomes increasingly important and that relationship is increasingly important,” she said. “I’m concerned about that the severing of this relationship because, all of a sudden, people don’t have a Blue Cross card. They have a Medicaid card and I don’t know if that’s been completely addressed.”
Rep. Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls, said the proposal was simply an “insurance bailout” by moving those with “complex conditions” to Medicaid.
“This is nothing but a Band-Aid. There are too many questions with the way that this would work. There are not guarantees that healthcare companies are going to drop rates at all,” he said.
HB 464 goes to the House floor. If passed, it goes to the Senate.
– Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.