Gov. Butch Otter’s Idaho primary care plan in jeopardy; what happened and what’s next?

A house committee Monday voted against introducing a funding bill for the proposed Primary Care Access Plan, or PCAP. The program by Gov. Butch Otter’s administration, is a state-funded alternative to Medicaid expansion that would subsidize doctor visits for Idahoans who lack health insurance. After the committee’s vote, the leading House sponsor said the PCAP plan is likely dead.

What was the vote on Monday?

The PCAP plan needs an approved source of funding as well as approval as a matter of policy. The bill before the House State Affairs committee Monday was a proposal to partially fund PCAP using some of the $25 million Idaho receives annually from the 1998 multistate settlement with tobacco companies over tobacco-related health care costs. With little discussion, the committee voted 8-6 against introducing the bill for a full hearing.

Why did the committee vote no?

At least four reasons, involving both money and policy. Some Republicans on the committee and in the Legislature as a whole oppose PCAP in general on the ground that it is a new entitlement program. Democrats, including two on the committee, oppose PCAP because they see it as an expensive and inadequate alternative to expanding Medicaid. Expansion would provide a route to health insurance for 78,000 Idahoans who currently can’t get coverage and would bring with it a windfall of federal cash.

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