- Kelsey Hawes
As Idaho legislators race to get home in time to dye their Easter Eggs, any chance of lawmakers addressing the fact that approximately 78,000 Idahoans are caught in the so-called "Medicaid gap" is dwindling.
On Wednesday, the Legislature's Republican majority opted to shelve a proposal that would have expanded Medicaid eligibility and instead pushed forward a couple of proposals to study the issue further—a move that Democratic legislators said was a stalling tactic.
The only Medicaid bill that appears to have any sign of life is House Bill 644, which would establish a grant program "to collect demographic and health data on the Idaho gap population."
Sen. Dan Schmidt (D-Moscow) was skeptical of the bill.
"What do we get for this?" he asked Thursday morning before the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. "I want to know what we're getting for the money."
As it stands, the measure requires approximately $5.4 million over two years for the grant-funded studies.
Less than a week earlier, Schmidt, a Moscow physician, announced he and his wife were relinquishing their state-funded health coverage, saying the Legislature's inaction on Medicaid availability "is a burden to us all."
JFAC, the Legislature's budget-writing committee, voted to send HB 644 back for more amendments.