And we’re off ~ 2020 legislative session begins

Earlier today, the Governor shared his vision for the 2020 Idaho Legislative Session at the inaugral State of the State address. A key element of the speech was his plan for not only meeting today’s needs but also preparing for the future.
Part of those preparations include a “spending reset” which impacts the current fiscal budget as well as the next. The 2% “reset” will impact PPS hospitals as the Department of Health and Welfare looks to fund most of their savings via Medicaid reimbursement reductions to larger facilities and nursing homes. IHA continues to work with the department to minimize the impacts as they work to meet their budgetary targets.
While those cuts present significant challenges for many of our members, we are celebrating that over 53,000 Idahoans who were caught in the coverage gap can now get the healthcare and treatments they need to stay healthy. As anticipated, Governor Little’s funding recommendation for Medicaid Expansion had no net impact on the General Fund. Of the $41 million needed for the first full year of funding, the Governor has recommended redirecting savings in existing programs, utilizing the state’s tobacco settlement fund, and $8.5 million in funding from Idaho counties that will see a decrease in their indigent costs.
One of the Governor’s focal points is public education and we were interested in his funding proposal to help teachers with students struggling with mental health issues by creating opportunities for additional training and resources.
“Identifying and getting these young people help early and with adults they know and trust shows Governor Little’s commitment not only to effective schools but to Idaho’s students,” said IHA President/CEO Brian Whitlock. “Hospitals across the state work closely with their local schools to create better communities and we are pleased to see them getting this valuable help. These additional resources will help create better opportunities for mental health care locally and potentially avoid students being taken out of school or hospitalized away from home.”
Another success for hospitals and their communities was the Governor’s recommendation to continue the build-out of medical residency programs. When the “budget reset” was announced, many assumed that both existing and new funding for residencies would be reduced or eliminated. With an eye on helping assure Idahoans have quality healthcare close to home, the Governor’s budget kept existing funding in place along with new funding for 25 additional residency slots in Idaho.
Today’s State of the State address offered some very positive news; however, as we listen to the proposals in and around the Capitol, we know there will be challenges that can have long term negative impacts on healthcare. Sharing the realities of the work you each do in your hospitals and helping lawmakers understand the intricacies of healthcare will keep your IHA team busy throughout the session. We will keep you up to date on the latest and look forward to a successful 2020 Legislative Session.