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Newest Medicaid Redesign Could Save Idaho $173 Million

PHOTO: Under a new health care proposal from a state Medicaid redesign group, Idaho would save $173 million over 10 years. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith.
PHOTO: Under a new health care proposal from a state Medicaid redesign group, Idaho would save $173 million over 10 years. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith.
December 16, 2014

BOISE, Idaho - Health care coverage for about 78,000 Idahoans, and a savings to the state and its 44 counties of $173 million over 10 years.

Those are the benefits calculated by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy in the new health care proposal from Governor Butch Otter's Medicaid Redesign Workgroup.

Lauren Necochea, director of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, says the Healthy Idaho Plan is different from previous proposals, and takes a more creative approach.

"It's a public-private hybrid and depending on income or other circumstances, Idahoans would be eligible for either a state-run plan or private coverage in the exchange," she says.

Necochea also says the redesign would spur $700 million in new economic activity in the Gem State, and create about 15,000 new jobs.

The plan would help bridge the coverage gap left when state leaders decided not to "opt in" for federal Medicaid funds to extend health insurance to residents who don't qualify for Affordable Care Act coverage. Necochea says other states have seen the budget savings associated with closing the gap, which inspired the new Idaho proposal.

"The financial savings are a key reason business groups back the plan," says Necochea. "In the first year, Idaho would see $34 million in savings in the state budget, and $30 million in potential property tax relief."

The report also found the proposal would spare some businesses certain tax penalties.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID