Budget committee takes another swing at Medicaid appropriation
By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports
The Joint Finance Appropriations Committee approved a new budget for Medicaid on Wednesday morning after the original appropriation failed on the House floor on Monday.
The new appropriation removes $152 million from the budget to account for Idahoans who will be removed from Medicaid rolls, including 13,000 people whom the state has already found to be no longer eligible for the program since the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare began its redetermination process in February.
During the federal COVID-related public health emergency, states weren’t allowed to remove people from Medicaid, even if they no longer qualified because of income or other reasons. That emergency provision ends April 1st. Rep. Colin Nash, D-Boise, said the department estimates as many as 75,000 may end up removed from the Medicaid program by the end of redetermination.
The budget also includes personnel funds to help the Division of Medicaid to help with cost containment efforts, including claim adjustments. Nash said private insurance providers like Blue Cross may have as many as 50 analysts working on claim adjustments to reduce costs.
“At the Division of Medicaid, we have two,” Nash said.
The total proposed budget is $4.5 billion, with $3 billion coming from federal funds, $857 million from general funds, and $675 million from dedicated funds.
A substitute motion from Rep. Josh Tanner, R-Eagle, would have set the Medicaid budget at $3.8 billion, including removing Medicaid rate increases for providers. Tanner said he was concerned about adding to the Medicaid budget before getting costs under control, adding he believes even more Idahoans will end up off the Medicaid rolls by the end of the redetermination process.
Rep. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby, pointed out that claims will continue to come in from people after they are kicked off Medicaid because of the way medical billing works.
“If we took every person off Medicaid right now, we’d still have a year’s worth of claims to pay,” Furniss said. He also pointed out that the state is obligated to pay those bills, even if it hasn’t budgeted for those on the front end. That means the joint budget committee would have to take up those costs again next year in the form of a supplemental appropriation.
“If there’s anything we don’t want, it’s a billion dollar supplemental,” Furniss said.
Nash’s original appropriation passed 17-3, with Tanner, Rep. Tina Lambert, R-Caldwell, and Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, voting no. The bill must go before both the House and Senate for approval.