One item of business that Idaho lawmakers still need to take up is a proposal that would limit Medicaid costs paid by the state and federal government. The Idaho House approved a plan that would reduce reimbursements to health care providers that treat people on Medicaid and try to reduce prescription drug costs. The proposal could save the state more than $3.4 million in tax dollars. It is part of lawmakers’ request that the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) find at least $42 million in Medicaid savings.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee held a rare Friday afternoon hearing on the legislation and will meet again on Monday morning to reach a decision. Private providers of services like nursing home and other long-term care facilities came from Pocatello and Lewiston to voice their concerns about some of the proposed cuts to Medicaid reimbursements. Medicaid provides health care for low-income children and adults as well as people with disabilities and other special health needs, and the state sets the rates it will pay providers for services, based in part on federal rate regulations. Committee chair Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, told the audience during the hearing that the legislation was one of the reasons why lawmakers didn’t end the legislative session on Friday.
“We’re running out of options to come up with savings,” said Leslie Clement, DHW’s Medicaid administrator. “Our payments are already at the bare minimum (and) we’re delaying payments. We don’t have enough money to get out of this year.” If Medicaid reimbursements get too low, some private providers choose to not accept patients with Medicaid or could close.
The hearing didn’t resolve concerns between providers and DHW, and some negotiations on changes to the legislation could come during the weekend. Sen. Chuck Coiner, R-Twin Falls, said he hopes an agreement is reached. “I don’t look forward to coming back at 8 o’clock on Monday morning and making a decision about this,” he said.
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