In anticipation of the launch of the 2015 session of the Idaho Legislature, a new report indicates that Idaho could reap $173 million in budget savings over the next 10 years if lawmakers agree with a work group and expand Medicaid.
The analysis, released this morning by thehttp://idahocfp.org/ Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy
and Idaho KIDS Count, says the budget savings would be directly tied to adding 78,000 Idahoans to the Medicaid rolls. Tens of thousands of Idahoans currently fall into the so-called "coverage gap" because they earn to little to qualify for tax breaks to help pay for health insurance on the state-run exchange.
The report, dubbed "Rx for a Healthy Idaho,"
says the $173 million savings largely comes from eliminating the need for tapping County Indigent Care and/or State Catastrophic Care accounts.
Dr. William Weppner, primary care physician at Boise's VA Medical Center, calls the expansion "a no-brainer for Idaho."
"As a physician and educator, I am aware that lack of access to health care can worsen treatable diseases and is actually associated with an increased risk of death," said Weppner. "For the health and well-being of Idaho citizens, I support a plan to increase coverage for people without adequate access to health care.”
Additionally, the report says the expansion would spur $700 million in economic activity, including the creation of as many as 15,000 new jobs.
“The potential savings will be attractive to officials who would like to see restored investment to education," said Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy Director Lauren Necochea.
"More funds are needed to implement the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force for Improving Education, which are gaining widespread support.”