February 2, 2019
"There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them." -Denis Waitley
Supreme Court Hearing on Medicaid Expansion
This week, I had the opportunity to attend the Regan v. Denney Idaho Supreme Court hearing; the Idaho Freedom Foundation is challenging the Secretary of State over the voter-approved Medicaid Expansion initiative. Citing federal law, the Freedom Foundation is claiming Medicaid Expansion is unconstitutional and it delegates legislative authority to Idaho's Department of Health and Welfare. Their lawyer argued that Idaho is put into a vicarious position by opting into expanding Medicaid without accounting for any possible federal changes that could occur without Idaho's consent. However, Idaho can always opt out of federal programs and changes, as we did when Medicaid was originally expanded. Idaho's Deputy Attorney General argued, citing process, "Based on the plain reading...There is simply no delegation to the Federal Government." Currently, the legislature is awaiting the Supreme Court's decision to proceed with funding mechanisms.
Medicaid Expansion Cost Offsets
A recent budget analysis shows Medicaid Expansion will create cost offsets of about $40.3 million throughout the state. Cost offsets are defined as appropriations that can be removed from their current agency budgets and applied to the Medicaid Expansion because the program takes over some of their services. Most notably, the Department of Health and Welfare, the Department of Corrections, the State Catastrophic Health Care Program, and Idaho counties with indigent funds would see cost offsets transferred. However, if the Legislature decides to add any extra hurdles, such as work requirements, the state would be responsible for all the financial burdens associated with it and the Federal Center for Medicaid Services would need to approve it through a waiver. The money to fund a clean Medicaid Expansion is in the budget, the Legislature just needs to act.
Red Tape Reduction Act
This week Governor Little signed an executive order aimed at reducing state regulatory burdens for Idaho citizens and businesses. Executive Order 2019-02, the "Red Tape Reduction Act," requires that state agencies, which have the authority to issue administrative rules, must submit, "A business/competitiveness impact statement that identifies the impact the proposed rule will have on individuals and small businesses; and at least two existing rules to be repealed or significantly simplified, or a statement clearly and thoroughly stating why existing rules cannot be simplified or eliminated." We must be careful not to repeal any necessary rules in our efforts to hold our state government accountable.
New Education Funding Formula
This Thursday, February 7th, the Legislature will be having a joint Education Committee listening session regarding the new education funding formula. All are invited to attend and listen or voice their views for or against the new funding formula. Portions of the draft formula categories create winners and losers among the school districts and are not well defined. Rather than rushing, we must take all the necessary time with stakeholders to create a funding formula that follows the Idaho Constitution requiring the state to provide a fair and equal education system for everyone.