Leavitt Partners was hired in May under a $99,000 contract to draft a report on Idaho’s possible Medicaid expansion. The report is due in early September.
The expansion would broaden Medicaid eligibility to all people within 133 percent of the poverty line — income of about $14,856 for a single person with no children, or about $30,657 for a family of four — starting in 2014. Idaho currently offers Medicaid to low-income children and pregnant women, and to specific groups such as disabled adults.
The expansion, one goal of the federal Affordable Care Act that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, would add at least 80,000 people to Idaho’s Medicaid rolls, according to estimates used by the state. Many of them would be people who now get care from community health centers and other safety-net medical providers.
Idaho can choose to deny Medicaid to all of its poorest adults. If Idaho does expand its program, the federal government initially must foot the entire bill for new patients, then 90 percent of the bill in later years. However, some Republicans in the Idaho Legislature worry about a bait-and-switch where Idaho gets stuck with a much larger share of the costs.
The federal government currently covers more than two-thirds of Idaho’s Medicaid costs. The federal match rate for Medicaid is determined by a state’s relative wealth or poverty. Idaho tends to get more Medicaid money from the federal government than most other states.
The report is meant to help Otter’s Medicaid-expansion task force, which he appointed last week. He also appointed a group to study whether Idaho should create its own health insurance exchange, a marketplace for people and companies to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act. (Idaho Statesman)