Idaho losing $3.3 billion in federal Medicaid funds, says study

By Statesman staff

August 7, 2014

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A new report says Idaho will lose $3.3 billion in federal Medicaid funds, and $1.5 billion for hospital reimbursement, over roughly the next decade by not expanding its Medicaid program to all poor adults.

The report from the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, released Thursday, says Idaho’s savings and new state revenues from a Medicaid expansion would the cost of implementing an expansion. Hospitals also would get reimbursed for newly eligible Medicaid patients who now lack insurance.

“The impact of not expanding Medicaid has broader implications than just the number of people who gain insurance. It significantly impacts state economies and hospital budgets,” said Kathy Hempstead, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, whose goals include 95 percent of Americans being covered by health insurance. “States are literally leaving billions of dollars on the table that would support their hospitals and stimulate the rest of their economies.”

States were required under the 2010 Affordable Care Act to expand their Medicaid programs to include anyone living in poverty — not just poor children, poor pregnant and new mothers and adults with disabilities, as is the case in Idaho. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states don’t have to comply with that part of the law. The Idaho Legislature and Gov. Butch Otter have opted not to expand Idaho’s Medicaid program.

States that expand Medicaid will have at least 90 percent of their new Medicaid costs covered by the federal government, under the law. Idaho lawmakers have voiced concerns about that federal-match rate being cut, leaving Idaho responsible for medical costs of significantly more people — a concern the new report addresses.