The recommendation came despite the 2016 election results, which gave
The task force was created this summer, following years of complaints that an estimated 78,000 adult Idahoans have been left without adequate health care options because they earn too much to meet
The task force met several times over the summer and fall. It finalized its report to the
"We've had a lot of testimony and we've all learned a lot," said task force Co-Chairman Sen.
In previous testimony, the task force heard that most people in the gap population are working adults who can't afford preventative care and don't have primary care doctors. Consequently, when they're ill they either don't get treatment or wait until it's serious enough to go to the emergency room.
That's the least desirable approach from a medical standpoint, as well as because it's the highest-cost alternative. Counties and the state often have to pick up the tab, spending millions of dollars every year on indigent care.
One alternative would be to expand the
Hagedorn noted that
"I don't believe we're likely to get a federal solution (before the end of the 2017 legislative session)," he said. "It's going to muddy the water too much if we try to expand
Another option the task force considered is to create a new state-funded program to serve the gap population. It could be paid for with general fund dollars, or using the annual
If the Legislature accepts that alternative, the task force recommended the focus be on primary care services.
"As I look at the data, when people have access to primary care it reduces the downstream medical costs (because illnesses can be identified and treated at an earlier stage, before they become serious)," said Sen.
One concern with a state-funded solution, though, is that it will necessarily be less comprehensive than a federal-state solution.
"It can't be comprehensive, because we can't afford it," Hagedorn said.
"I hope this is just the beginning for us to provide care for everyone," she said.
The task force report recommended that, if the Legislature does approve some form of
During a visit to
"It will still be talked about, but as far as getting something done this session, I don't know," he said. "This typically isn't the kind of thing you see the Legislature initiating. The governor might have to come forward with a proposal."
Spence may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 791-9168.
(c)2016 the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho)
Visit the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho) at www.lmtribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.