'Idaho Accountable Care Waiver Act' on Life Support at Statehouse 

click to enlarge KELSEY HAWES
  • Kelsey Hawes


As the 2016 Idaho Legislature enters its 71st day Monday, a last-chance effort is expected to surface addressing the 78,000 Idahoans caught in the so-called Medicaid Gap—making too much for Medicaid and too little to be eligible for the state-run health insurance exchange.

The Idaho Accountable Care Waiver Act would enable the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to craft a managed-care program for Idaho's working poor.

However, even if the measure does pass this week, its effects would be far from immediate. As written, the bill only authorizes the Legislature to review the process and ask for permission from the federal government to move forward with the plan. The Idaho Legislature would need to come back in 2017 and consider the proposed plan before deciding to enact it. Any enrollments from the thousands of Idaho families in need of care couldn't even commence until sometime in 2017. 

Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Wood (R-Burley) has indicated he expects his committee to take up the debate on Monday and the measure could hit the floor of the House as early as Tuesday, March 22.

Still, it's all about the votes. Nearly two dozen Idaho House Republicans would need to cross over the political aisle and join Democrats to support the effort (assuming the Democrats support it). The issue would also need to pass the Idaho Senate, but Statehouse pundits say clearing the House will be the more daunting task.

Meanwhile, both the House and Senate calendars are backed up with appropriations bills as lawmakers approve budgets for dozens of Idaho departments and agencies.
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