A Fair and Friendly Look at What's Happening in the 2016 Legislature
Legislative Update
January 11-15, 2016
Welcome back everyone and welcome to the new followers to our 2016 Legislative Update. This session I will cover news and legislation that pertains to our industry. Mostly I cover news that relates to health and welfare issues especially issues that pertain to disability, employment and mental health issues.

I will track legislation of interest and I often share updates that legislators write to their constituents especially if it relates to health and welfare issues.

Occasionally, I also write about other fun and fascinating topics that come up in the legislature. Most importantly, I try to keep the updates fair and friendly!

I invite people to send me news and events to share. This update goes out to almost 3,600 readers on a weekly basis so it is a good way to keep people informed. You can contact me at bibiana.nertney@mycpid.com .


Bibiana Nertney
Governor Otter Unveils Alternative to Medicaid Expansion
At a press conference on January 7th Governor Otter unveiled an alternative plan to expanding Medicaid to the 78,000 Idahoans who fall through the gap because they are  making too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to qualify for subsidized health insurance through the state health insurance exchange.  The plan is called the Primary Care Access Program.

The program would  provide preventive, primary medical care to the estimated 78,000 Idahoans who now fall into the “gap” population. He proposes a $30 million program funded solely with existing state tobacco taxes.

The program would spend approximately $32 a month per patient for them to access to a “medical home” which would be a regular health care provider who would be familiar with the patient’s health history and could coordinate their care.Patients would go to clinics in their area, which would expand hours to serve them, including weekends. The program wouldn’t cover hospitalization or specialty care.

The program is endorsed by Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong, Senate Health and Welfare Chairman Lee Heider and House Health and Welfare Chairman Fred Wood. 

To read the statements from Senator Lee Heider and Rep. Fred Wood read Betsy Russel's article here.
Close the Gap Advocates Respond to Governor's
Primary Care Access Program
In response to the Primary Care Access Program (PCAP) proposal, Close the Gap Idaho hosted a press briefing on the differences between the PCAP and the Healthy Idaho Plan. Attached, you will find the press release provided to statewide media outlets. During the briefing, Neva Santos, Executive Director of the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians, stated, “It’s critical to understand that the proposed Primary Care Access Program is not health insurance coverage.” Further, Ted Epperly, CEO of Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, went on to explain, “It is essential that everyone understands PCAP would be limited to just primary care and preventative care, with basic lab, x-ray, pharmacy and limited office based behavioral health services, depending on availability at a given clinic.” The event was well attended and received great media coverage ( read Betsy Russell’s Eye on Boise story).

You can learn more about the PCAP by downloading the Department of H&W’s PCAP Summary and PCAP FAQs. Additional Primary Care Access Program (PCAP) takeaways:

1.      The PCAP is not an alternative to the Healthy Idaho Plan or Medicaid expansion. The PCA does NOT replace health insurance and will NOT consistently cover medications, acute care, emergency room visits, labs/x-rays, or behavioral health services.

2.      The PCAP will not close the coverage gap; 78,000 Idahoans will still lack access to affordable health insurance. Because thousands will still fall into the coverage gap if the Healthy Idaho Plan is not passed, Idaho will continue to see the tragic consequences – hundreds of deaths, thousands of suffering families, and too many medical bankruptcies. What’s more, our economy will miss out on 15,000 new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in the new economic activity each year.

3.      The PCAP will cost Idaho taxpayers an additional $30 million. State and county indigent funding for hospital and special care will continue to be needed (last year, the total indigent costs were $36 million), and taxpayers will continue to pay for Medicaid expansion in other states (over the next eight years, Idaho will send $1.2 billion of our federally paid taxes to other states).

Governor Otter Proposes Behavioral Health Center in Southern Idaho

In his State of the State address Governor Otter proposed funding an additional behavioral health community crisis center for the state at a cost of $1.7 million.

In 2014 Otter first proposed establishing crisis centers for the mentally ill in three Idaho cities. To date, two of the centers have been created in Idaho Falls and Coeur d'Alene. The centers help individuals with mental illness who might face jail, emergency room treatment or other expensive interventions that often don't provide effective or ongoing help for their problems.

The newest center would be located  in southern Idaho.

Governor Supports Voc Rehab Line Items

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is pleased that the Governor is supporting two very important line items in their FY17 budget. The first is $270,600 in general funds for the VR program.  This will allow the department to capture $1,000,000 in federal funds.

The second is $340,000 in general funds for the EES program.  This will allow a reduction of the wait list.

The Governor did not recommend an additional position for the Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. 

Upcoming Events
January 18
4:00 Office of Performance Evaluation releases findings of the Idaho Behavioral Health Plan
January 19
Health and Welfare Week in JFAC
8:00-8:30 Idaho Behavioral Health Plan presented to JFAC From the Office of Performance Evaluation
8:30 a.m. to 9:10 a.m. Division of Medicaid
9:10 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. Break
9:20 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Division of Medicaid (continued)
10:00 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. Mental Health Services
10:40 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Health Care Policy Initiatives

January 20
Health and Welfare Week in JFAC
8:00 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Psychiatric Hospitalization
8:45 a.m. to 9:10 a.m. Substance Abuse Services
9:10 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Independent Councils/Domestic Violence Council
9:30 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. Break
9:40 a.m. to 10:35 a.m. Division of Welfare
10:35 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Licensing and Certification

January 21
Health and Welfare Week in JFAC
8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Services for the Developmentally Disabled
8:30 a.m. to 9:10 a.m. Child Welfare & Service Integration
9:10 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. Break
9:20 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Catastrophic Health Care Program
10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Public Health Districts
10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Commission on Aging

January 21
Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Displays at the Capitol
9:00-12:00 4th Floor Rotunda
January 22
Health and Welfare Week in JFAC
8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Division of Veterans Services
8:30 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. Office of Drug Policy
8:50 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. Self-Governing Agencies – Medical Boards
9:20 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Break
9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Commission on Hispanic Affairs

February 23
Consortium For Idahoans Disability Awareness Day at the Capitol
Contacting Your Legislator
Your legislator is happy to hear from you. Here are a number of ways to contact your legislator.

If you are not sure who your legislators are, you can check by going to the Legislature's website at: http://legislature.idaho.gov/who'smylegislator.htm .

You can contact your legislators in a variety of ways. 

Here are the basic ways to communicate with legislators:

TELEPHONE CALLS: During the legislative session, you can call the Legislature and have a message delivered to your legislators. You will be asked to provide your name and contact information. Here are the phone numbers to use:

Local: 208-332-1000
Toll Free: 800-626-0471
Fax: 208-334-5397
Hearing Impaired: 800-626-0471

PERSONAL VISITS: During the legislative session, you are encouraged to visit your legislators in person at the Capitol. You can attend and participate in committee hearings. You can visit personally with your legislators. You can observe the House and Senate in action.

If you want to visit with a legislator, you can go to either the House or Senate lobby and the door keeper will have a page hand deliver a note to your legislator who will then come out to speak to you (time allowing).

LETTERS: You can send letters to your legislators. Do not count on a reply. They try their best, but, again, they are inundated with information and requests. They appreciate your input, and it will be considered. 

Idaho State Legislature
State Capitol Building
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho
83720-0038 (House) 
83720-0081 (Senate)  

All mail must contain your name and address or phone number.

E-MAILS: The Legislature has a website which allows you to e-mail your legislators directly. Once you know who your legislator is, you can select them by name at the following web address:


Or contact them by district at the following web address:


Idaho Fiscal Facts

To learn more about Idaho's facts, figures and trends the Idaho fiscal Facts document is a good source of information.  Click here for the pdf.

Tracking Legislation

If there is legislation that you want to follow, there is a a nice tool offered by Legislative Services that help you know where in the process a bill is. Click here and log in to establish your own personal bill tracker for 2016.

Community Partnerships of Idaho | 208-376-4999 | bibiana.nertney@mycpid.com| www.mycpid.com