The season of the Lincoln Day celebrations is in full swing and our part of the world is not an exception. It is what I have referred to in the past as my thousand mile weekend. For me it was a journey well worth taking and it was great to get back home and visit with folks. I can’t remember one of these events that I enjoyed more.
I have been asked to help with a working group to try and find a way forward with the discussions that are going on about Medicaid. One of the issues is about our current Medicaid plan. Since Idaho first began participating, the major effort has always been on finding the resources to pay the bills instead of developing a healthcare system in a managed care model. For that to happen Idaho must apply for a waiver to change to managed care, which would direct those on the program to less expensive primary care. It has been demonstrated in other states to reduce costs as well as provide better care.
The other element that will be looked into will be what to do with the “gap” population that the Affordable Care Act created. Governor Otter has proposed a way forward that has to this point been a hard sell. How that will all turn out is impossible to predict. This next week will be a busy one on this subject.
Many are excited about the announcement of a public-private partnership to establish a medical school in Idaho. Currently we are investing a lot of money in out of state schools for seats for medical students from Idaho. The school would be an extension of Idaho State University which currently has the mission of providing medical related education and it would be located in the Boise area. The effort would be one that would provide an incentive for our medical students to remain in Idaho. It is thought that the state funding we do in other states now could be re-directed to this effort. More details will follow shortly.
I had a representative of the new Catholic Bishop of Idaho in my office last week wanting to discuss some of the changes of emphasis they are making at this time. It was a very enjoyable meeting and he told me that they are feeling the most important thing we can all do, no matter what your religion, is to strengthen our families. I could not agree more. They would like to help along the way with any issues concerning families.
We are working our way through legislation and soon will be voting on budgets on the floor of the House. If all goes well we are on track for a shorter than normal session. That is a very big “if” knowing that the Governor may not be pleased with some items we may have to trim to keep the budget balanced as the constitution requires. Meanwhile we will soon see February revenue numbers and we are keeping our fingers crossed.