House Bill 316 — Public health districts, aid

House Bill 316 — Public health districts, aid

by
Parrish Miller
March 11, 2021
Parrish Miller
March 11, 2021

Bill Description: House Bill 316 shifts the funding of health districts from the state to the counties and reduces the number of people who qualify for subsidized health care through the county medically indigent program and state Catastrophic Health Care fund.

Rating: +1

Amendment Analysis: The Senate amendment to House Bill 316 does not change the bill's rating, but it does make two changes to the bill. The first change is to add language to the bill mirroring language that was already adopted in Senate Bill 1060. This change is more of a technical correction given that Senate Bill 1060 was signed into law on March 19, 2021, and because it contained an emergency clause, has already gone into effect.

The second change is to the effective dates of the bill. In the original bill, the section that makes those who are eligible for Medicaid or for health insurance ineligible for subsidies through the county medically indigent program and state Catastrophic Health Care fund, would have gone into effect immediately with an emergency clause. The rest of the bill would have gone into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Under the Senate Amendment, the entire bill will not go into effect until Mar. 1, 2022.

This change is unfortunate, as it will allow for many months of additional redistributive subsidies that the original bill would have precluded.

Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt?

House Bill 316 creates Section 31-3505H, Idaho Code, which says that those who are eligible for Medicaid or for health insurance are not eligible to have their health care paid for or subsidized through the county medically indigent program and state Catastrophic Health Care fund.

These programs are fundamentally redistributive in nature; therefore, reducing the number of people with access to them is a positive step. Ideally, these programs should be shuttered altogether. 

(+1)

House Bill 316 amends Section 39-425, Idaho Code, to remove language requiring the Legislature to fund public health districts. Unfortunately, it adds language allowing the Legislature to "authorize or grant additional funds to the various public health districts for selected projects."

Reducing funding to public health districts is a net positive. 

(+1)

House Bill 316 creates Section 39-424A, Idaho Code, to require counties to fund public health districts. The bill requires that "the amount of such additional county aid shall not be less than the amount appropriated to the various public health districts by the legislature for state fiscal year 2021."

This requirement forces counties to fund regional governmental entities whose necessity and value to Idahoans is suspect, to say the least. It would be far better to allow counties to opt out of both funding and participating in these public health districts altogether. 

(-1)

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