Written by Natalie Simpson, @byuiscroll

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare began their legislative budget presentation Monday, Jan. 18. The overview continued each day and was completed Thursday, Jan. 21.

The presentation covered budgets for Health and Welfare, Indirect Support Services, Public Health Services, Medicaid, Mental Health Services, Health Care Policy Initiatives, Psychiatric Hospitalization, Substance Use Disorders, Welfare, Licensing and Certification, Services for the Developmentally Disabled and Child Welfare and Service Integration.

The State Fiscal Year 2017 Recommendation for Allocation of Funds ($2.78 billion) by program puts 79.7 percent of funds toward Medicaid, 6.8 percent toward Welfare, 4.1 percent toward Health, 1.5 percent toward Support Services, 3.5 percent toward Behavioral Health, 3.7 percent toward Family and Community Services, 0.3 percent toward Licensing and Certification, and 0.4 percent toward Healthcare Policy Initiatives, according to a graph found on healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.

In the presentation of The Health and Welfare Overview, a Primary Care Access Program was presented. This program comes without federal mandate and differs from Medicaid, according to the Department of Health and Welfare.

“I think it’s important that everyone has the same opportunity to get the help that they need,” said Andie Dansie, a senior studying biochemistry.

The Primary Care Access Program is meant to provide individuals who are uninsured and earn under 100 percent poverty with healthcare services, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

“Nearly one in five Americans lack adequate access to primary care due to a shortage of primary services in the U.S. and maldistribution of those services,” according to The Primary Care Project. “This shortage is only expected to accelerate as the population both grows and ages and as millions of Americans gain needed health coverage through the Affordable Care Act and seek out a regular source of care.”

The Primary Care Access Program seeks to address the problem of not enough primary care services in the U.S. and is projected to help 78,000 adults, age 19-64, who are eligible for the PCAP in Idaho, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

“Participants must share costs through an income-based sliding fee and actively participate in their care plan,” according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.  “(The Primary Care Access Program) does not provide comprehensive services, such as hospitalization or specialty care; it is not insurance.”

Even after qualification, participation depends on available funding. Participants must pay part of the cost and be actively engaged in their treatment program, according to the Department of Health and Welfare.

“I think I would be for it,” said Hannah Stroble, a junior studying health psychology. “I think that it’s fair because they’re helping pay for it — they’re not just getting a free ride, and it’s helping them out for not that bad of a price because medical bills are really expensive, so I think that they’re getting a pretty good deal.”

A Primary Care Access Program differs from Medicaid because it is not an entitlement program.

“Medicaid was designed to provide health coverage for low-income children and families who lack access to private health insurance because of their limited finances, health status, and/or severe physical, mental health, intellectual or developmental disabilities,” according to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

However, in the state of Idaho, Medicaid dose not extend coverage to low-income adults, according to medicaid.gov

In the 2015 fiscal year, $60.1 million was spent on Child Welfare, and $2.03 billion was spent on Medicaid. In the 2016 fiscal year, $63.5 million has been allocated for Child Welfare and $2.1 billion  has been allocated for Medicaid, according to Idaho Fiscal Facts, a Legislator’s Handbook of Facts, Figures and Trends.

The total projected cost for an Idaho Primary Care Access Program is $30 million. This funding would come through current tobacco and cigarette tax receipts and would pay $32 a month or $384 a year per participant, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.