Idaho Medicaid has submitted a request to add 60 employees to its program, a move that would expand the workforce serving approximately 400,000 Idahoans on Medicaid to 273 employees.
This request, part of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s fiscal year 2025 budget proposal presented to Governor Brad Little, comes as the program’s staff count has remained stagnant in recent years, despite Medicaid’s expansion two years ago to include a broader range of low-income earners.
Idaho Medicaid Seeks to Expand Staff to Serve Growing Population
Juliet Charron, the Director of Idaho Medicaid, acknowledged the need for additional staff when she assumed her role in late 2021.
She emphasized that the Department of Health and Welfare must assess the agency’s budgetary needs.
The ongoing funding request for these additional staff members amounts to $5.7 million, with $2.77 million requested from the state’s general fund and nearly $3 million from federal funds, as outlined in the proposal.
The requested staff will be primarily allocated to roles related to compliance, enhanced efficiency, cost containment efforts, and improved customer service for providers and participants.
In a report published in 2022, the Office of Performance Evaluations identified a staffing shortage within Medicaid.
It revealed that Medicaid had 17 fewer positions in 2022 than in 2009, despite a more than 75% increase in Medicaid enrollment and a roughly 125% surge in benefit spending during the same period.
Federal Funding Dominates Idaho Medicaid’s Budget
For the fiscal year 2025, set to begin on July 1, 2024, Medicaid has requested $4.6 billion in funds.
This estimate is lower than the $4.7 billion allocated to the program for fiscal year 2023, with actual expenses for the latter year amounting to $4.36 billion.
As with all Idaho state agency budget requests, this proposal must undergo evaluation by Governor Brad Little, who will provide a recommended budget to the Legislature.
The Legislature’s budget committee, known as the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, will then consider the request and potentially propose modifications.
Idaho Medicaid is primarily funded by the federal government, with Idaho contributing $1.5 billion to the program’s total budget of $4.7 billion, while the federal government provides $3.1 billion.
In the latest funding request by Idaho Medicaid, the federal government is expected to cover approximately $3 billion of the program’s costs.
Since expanding Medicaid, the program has seen an increase of over 100,000 enrollees. While approximately 121,000 individuals were removed from Medicaid as the state phased out pandemic-era protections that prevented people from being removed, Idaho Medicaid continues to experience overall growth in response to the state’s population increase.
Notably, the individuals removed from Idaho Medicaid were primarily lower utilizers of Medicaid services, according to Juliet Charron. In contrast, those who remain on Medicaid tend to be higher utilizers of the program’s services.