Health plan patients would share costs
In a briefing for lawmakers Monday, Health and Welfare Director Richard Armstrong said the proposed $30 million basic health care plan for low-income Idahoans is “not an entitlement program.”
Armstrong told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee that enrollment is subject to available funding, and that participants would pay a share of costs and must be “actively engaged in their treatment plans. If not, they lose eligibility,” he said.
An estimated 78,000 adults could enroll — the population that currently doesn’t qualify for Medicaid or for subsidized health insurance on the state health exchange, created under the federal Affordable Care Act. The proposed program would subsidize doctor visits and other basic care but would not pay for emergency room visits or hospitalization.
Armstrong said the patient portion could range from $3 to $25, depending on income. The program would start Jan. 1, 2017.
Anti-takeover rally set for noon Tuesday
Sportsmen and women, environmentalists and bird watchers are rallying across the Pacific Northwest to stand up for public lands and protest the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore.
The rally on the Capitol steps in Boise is sponsored by the Boise Broadband, a local chapter of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Western Watersheds Project and others.
The groups want to send a message to the government to “prosecute the bullies,” they said in a notice. Public lands are part of America’s heritage and the government must enforce the laws that protect public lands. Management should not be done through bullying, intimidation and armed anarchy, the groups said.
Bill would change party affiliation deadline
Idaho voters seeking to change their political party affiliation before this year’s presidential primary election would be up against a tight deadline under new legislation introduced Monday.
The bill, approved by the Senate State Affairs Committee, would cut off changes on the second Friday of February. That would be Feb. 12 this year. The existing deadline is March 12.
Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst says current law allows people to register as Republican for Idaho’s new March 8 presidential primary election and then switch to another party to vote under different affiliation in the May 17 primary for state and local offices.
Roughly half of all Idaho voters are unaffiliated and rarely change party registration, Hurst said.
The bill also would prohibit write-in candidates from participating in the March 8 presidential primary, but not the November general election.
Idaho program treat 4 with marijuana extract
Idaho health officials say four children are receiving treatment for severe forms of epilepsy with an experimental non-psychoactive drug derived from marijuana plants.
Elke Shaw-Tulloch with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare told state budget writers on Monday that Idaho has filled four of its 25 slots awarded in the newly created Expanded Access Program. The program was established by Gov. Butch Otter last year through executive order. It treats children suffering from severe epileptic seizures with the new drug – also known as Epidiolex. Shaw-Tulloch says another 18 children are scheduled to be screened for the program.
Lawmakers approved legalizing oil derived from marijuana plants last year, but Otter vetoed the legislation after citing concerns that there wasn’t enough evidence supporting the claims. Instead, he set up the program that restricted the use of the oil.
State would control water pollution permits
The Senate Resources and Environment Committee approved rules Monday to transfer authority from the federal government to Idaho.
The Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program is expected to cost up to $3 million for 29 full-time employees the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality would hire to run the program. Idaho taxpayers would foot $2 million of the cost, with larger industries, cities and others permittees covering $1 million. Large industries would pay about $13,000 for the permitting while municipalities could pay tens of thousands depending on their size.
Smaller companies and entities such as irrigation districts and recreational dredge miners would not have to pay, said Barry Burnell, DEQ Water Quality Administrator. The rules had wide support from industry, which pushed the legislation to take over the program and environmentalists. It’s major impact will be reducing the backlog of permit renewals both sides didn’t like.