Members of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) concluded their work for the year Friday by setting a $1.9 billion Medicaid budget.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program aiding low-income individuals or families in paying for the costs associated with long-term medical and custodial care, provided they qualify. It is primarily funded by the federal government, but the program is managed by the state.
The budget includes an increase in state money for the second year in a row due to the loss of funding elsewhere. The spending plans also calls for funds to reform Idaho’s Medicaid eligibility system.
Overall, the Medicaid budget, including state, dedicated and federal funds, will jump $103 million next fiscal year if the full House and Senate approve the plan.
State spending for the program is set to spike by $38 million, due mostly to the expiration of some self-imposed taxes from hospitals and other care facilities. That jump in spending represents an 8.9 percent state funds hike.
Lawmakers set forth $474 million in state spending on Medicaid for 2013.
This is the second year in a row a similar scenario has played out in JFAC. In the 2012 budget, federal support for the Medicaid program, traditionally split 70/30 with Idaho, dropped slightly, causing the state to add more money for the expense. JFAC added $137 million in state funds to Medicaid after the federal funding drop.
Included in the spending plan is $300,000 in state funds to ready Idaho’s Medicaid system to integrate with an online health exchange. The money will aid the state in developing a real-time welfare qualification system that will be available 24 hours per day. The state money leverages federal funding with a 90/10 match, meaning the feds are pitching in $3 million for the project.
But that’s just in one division of Medicaid. In a separate division, the state is allocating $820,000 for the project, leveraging another $7.38 million in federal funding.
Another reason for the increase is a reversal of some of last year’s Medicaid cuts. Earlier this week, the Idaho House passed a bill to provide dental services for aged and disabled program recipients along with restoring some programs for those with dual diagnoses. The bill will cost $1.5 million next year and passed 65-0.
The lead negotiator on the Medicaid budget, Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, told IdahoReporter.com that JFAC listened to public testimony taken earlier this year in deciding which cuts, if any, the committee would reverse. “We identified those two areas of critical need that needed to be funded this year,” Wood said.
He added that reversing cuts for the dual diagnosis Medicaid recipients was critical because law enforcement reported a rise in incidents with those who needed services but couldn’t have them.
The new state money will also bring the state spending on Medicaid to its highest rate in the last few years. Of Idaho’s $2.7 billion 2013 budget, Medicaid’s $474 million in state money represents 17.55 percent of overall expenses.
That’s up from 2012, when the $436 million Medicaid budget represented 17.09 percent of state spending. It’s a sharp spike from 2007 when lawmakers put $340 million into Medicaid, or 13.9 percent of the Idaho’s spending that year.
The low percentage point of the last few years came in 2009, when the state spent $327.5 million on Medicaid, amounting to 12 percent of that year’s spending.
The budget now heads to the House floor for a vote.
See Wood talk about reversal of the Medicaid cuts below: