Medicaid

Idaho physicians gather Thursday, March 14, 2019, at the state Capitol to call on lawmakers to implement Medicaid expansion as passed by voters, without any modifications or restrictions.

A waiver to add work requirements to Idaho’s Medicaid expansion is expected to be released for public comment in a week or two.

That waiver is expected to be ready for release in mid-August, Department of Health and Welfare spokesman Niki Forbing-Orr said Wednesday. She said two other waivers, one to put restrictions on using outside family planning providers and one to let the state spend some Medicaid money on mental health and substance abuse treatment, are expected to be released in early September.

The state already has gathered public comment on and submitted waiver requests to give people making between 100 and 138 percent of the poverty level the option of getting federal tax credits to buy insurance on the Your Health Idaho state exchange instead of going on Medicaid when expansion kicks in on Jan. 1.

Idaho voters approved expanding Medicaid coverage to everyone making up to 138 percent of the poverty level in 2018 over the wishes of many Republican lawmakers who opposed it. The Legislature approved funding for expansion during the 2019 session but also passed a bill to request some waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Of these waiver requests, the work requirements were easily the most controversial. Most people who spoke at legislative hearings on the waiver proposals testified against the work requirements. There also is the potential for future litigation around work requirements — the Trump administration supports them and has been approving work requirement waivers, but U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg has ruled against work requirements in Arkansas, Kentucky and New Hampshire. An appeal against the Arkansas and Kentucky rulings is pending.

The bill the Legislature passed would require Medicaid expansion beneficiaries to work, go to school, volunteer or get job training at least 20 hours a week. Some groups such as people unable to work, people under 19 or over 59, or the caretaker of a child under 18 would be exempt. Those who don’t comply would be ineligible to re-enroll for two months, although if they show they are in compliance they could re-enroll sooner.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.