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Committee turns back Wood’s welfare expansion funding bill

Committee turns back Wood’s welfare expansion funding bill

Dustin Hurst
February 15, 2016
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February 15, 2016

One of Gov. Butch Otter’s signature plans for the 2016 legislative session hangs in the balance after a House committee put the proposed program’s funding source in jeopardy Monday morning.

Burley Republican Rep. Fred Wood’s bill to fund Otter’s Primary Care Access Program was killed by the House State Affairs Committee on a 6-to-8 vote.

The program would provide basic medical care to more than 78,000 Idahoans who fall in Obamacare’s insurance coverage gap. Coverage would be extended to workers who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for an insurance subsidy on the state’s insurance exchange.

Wood’s bill would have used Millennium Fund dollars -- Idaho’s portion of a tobacco lawsuit settlement in 2000 -- to fund half of the program’s cost through its first five years. Savings from lower costs incurred by the state’s catastrophic fund would have paid for the other half of PCAP.

The committee voiced concerns about the plan’s funding beyond 2022, when the legislation would have forced lawmakers to find a new funding source.

Otter originally floated cigarette and tobacco taxes as a funding source for the program, but House leadership rebuffed that request.

The governor’s program might be dead for the year. Wood told an Idaho news reporter Monday the plan cannot move forward without a plan for funding.

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