Health financing project approved by the House attracts opposition in a hearing in the Senate Eye in Boise

Health financing project approved by the House attracts opposition in a hearing in the Senate Eye in Boise

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Do you LOVE local news? Get Local News Headlines in your inbox daily. Senate Health & Welfare Chairman Fred Martin, R-Boise, asked him if, in that case, “Would it make sense to hold the bill until January of 2022 … and then make it the first bill that we look at?

David Lehman, lobbyist for Bingham Memorial Hospital, told the committee, “Critical access hospitals over this past year have been in a very precarious position. … This is really a gut-punch to those community hospitals where they don’t have high volumes, and they can’t make up the cost of care for these individuals by charging higher fees or trying to recruit more business into their doors.” “Our concern is that it will have an extremely negative impact,” he said. “The bill basically says upon signature of the governor, hospitals, doesn’t matter that you haven’t budgeted, doesn’t matter that you haven’t hired the staff, doesn’t matter that you don’t have the facilities available to handle all this – that you get this responsibility. … I think the hospitals deserve an opportunity to have some input on this bill.”

Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, the bill’s lead sponsor, urged the Senate panel not to amend the bill, and said the only amendment he’d support is one to put off the effective date until next Jan. 1. “That gives ‘em a time frame to figure it all out and know what’s going to happen by January next year,” he said. Brian Whitlock, president of the Idaho Hospital Association, said the bill violates existing law that says the state will provide for medically indigent residents, and instead shifts all uncompensated medical costs to hospitals. He estimated that could come to $30 million or more this year, and urged the committee not to pass the bill and hit Idaho’s hospitals with that amid a pandemic. He also said hospitals weren’t given time to study the proposal when it was swiftly introduced and passed in the House earlier in the session.

Source Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

Sen. Abby Lee, R-Fruitland, moved to send HB 316 to the 14th Order for possible amendment, and urged all sides to come to the table to work out their differences over the bill. “I think moving this to the 14th Order will get everyone to the table,” she said. Lee’s motion passed on a party-line vote, with Sens. Wintrow and Stennett dissenting. “I would not be in favor of that,” Vander Woude responded. “That’s basically killing the bill.”

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