What’s ahead? A look at the 2020 Legislative Session

Image of year 2020

With 2020 just days away, the opening gavel of the Legislative Session will quickly be upon us. This year is shaping up to be incredibly pivotal for hospitals and healthcare in Idaho. In a preliminary review of potential and probable legislation, IHA staff identified over two dozen issues that may be addressed in the Legislature. Many could have significant negative impacts on hospitals and their ability to provide care.

Beginning with the Governor’s State of the State Address on January 6 (streaming will be available here), healthcare is expected to be highlighted when Governor Little offers up his budget plan for Medicaid Expansion. As of December 30, the Department of Health and Welfare reported just over 52,000 Idahoans have enrolled in Medicaid expansion and will receive coverage beginning January 1. This enrollment is significantly lower than the projected 91,000 Idahoans who would be eligible for coverage under expansion, however, Idahoans who qualify may still be enrolled when they show up for care. Savings in the State’s Catastrophic Healthcare Fund (CAT Fund), Health and Welfare programs, and the Deparment of Correction budget will likely comprise Governor Little’s expansion funding proposal, with earnings from the Millennium Fund making up the balance. This is in line with how the partial first year is funded.

The other key issue taking center stage is the budget reset the Governor called for in November. With revenues coming in lower than forecasted, he has asked all departments (with the exception of public education) to cut 1% from the current budget cycle and absorb a 2% base reduction in next year’s budgets. Health and Welfare is looking at hospital funding cuts to make up a majority of their cost containment goals. How this works out will be one of the most discussed issues of the Session.

Your IHA team is also preparing for a host of other legislation on issues ranging from credentialing and IDAPA rules to telehealth and surprise billing. It promises to be a very busy session with Legislators anxious to take home wins leading up to the 2020 elections. Making sure those wins don’t impact your ability to provide quality care will continue to be our focus.