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Senate committee agrees with House, votes to reverse $1.5 million in Medicaid cuts

Senate committee agrees with House, votes to reverse $1.5 million in Medicaid cuts

Dustin Hurst
March 15, 2012
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March 15, 2012

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted Wednesday to align itself with the Idaho House in support of reversing some of last year’s Medicaid cuts.

The panel unanimously supported the idea, which would reinstate $1.5 million in Medicaid services to some targeted program recipients.

The cuts were made in last year’s House Bill 260, which sliced $35 million from the Medicaid program. Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, sponsored last year’s legislation and the bill to reverse some of the reductions. She said House Bill 260 had some unintended consequences and that changes needed to be made.

The reductions eliminated adult preventative dental coverage, reduced certain therapy programs and trimmed down chiropractic services, among other things. The cuts were billed as a way to make Idaho’s Medicaid program more sustainable and fiscally sound.

The bill passed by the House would restore preventative dental services for the disabled and elderly, along with adding back programs cut for those with dual diagnoses.

Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, who worked closely with McGeachin on the legislation, said the reversal addresses some issues most concerning to Idaho residents who testified before the budget committee earlier this year. “We have been able to address the worst concerns that came out of House Bill 260,” Broadsword said.

Of the $1.5 million in reversals, $653,000 will go for dental services and the rest will restore programs for those with dual diagnoses. The funds are included in the 2013 Medicaid appropriation, which is awaiting a Senate floor hearing.

The budget committee added $36 million in state money to the program budget, after adding $137 million in state money last year. The total proposed state Medicaid appropriation is $474 million for 2013.

Medicaid is a shared expense between the state and the federal government. The state typically pays around 30 percent of the cost with the feds picking up the rest. The total Medicaid budget, with the federal money included, could by $1.9 billion next year, if lawmakers approve the appropriation.

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