Idaho Capitol dome

The dome of the Idaho Capitol.

The state Department of Health and Welfare has released a waiver that would require most Medicaid patients to get a referral before seeking family planning services from anyone other than their primary doctor, writes Post Register reporter Nathan Brown. Public comment has opened, the department said in a news release Wednesday, and will continue through Oct. 12. The state will then submit the proposed waiver to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for approval.

During debate in this year's legislative session, opponents of the waiver said it would prevent women on Medicaid from seeing their gynecologist without a specific referral from their general practitioner or family-practice doctor, something most insurance plans don't require.

Some opponents and supporters alike cast it as an attempt to steer Medicaid money away from Planned Parenthood, Brown writes, while its legislative backers said it was a cost-saving measure.

The waiver, if approved, would cover not only expansion enrollees but all Medicaid participants who are part of a managed care plan. DHW estimates 321,471 people would be impacted by it. The waiver’s intent, DHW said in its news release, is to see if monitoring and knowing about external family planning services can help achieve better care coordination and improved health outcomes. The waiver request says costs would be the same with or without the waiver.

Two public hearings on the waiver proposal will be held next week in Boise, one on Monday, one on Sept. 20. The first, on Monday, will be from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the Medicaid Central Office, 3232 Elder St., Conference Room D; the second, on Friday, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Lincoln Auditorium at the state Capitol. People can call in to either at 1-877-820-7831 and use the code 301388#.

Public comments may also be submitted in writing. They can be emailed to or mailed to Clay Lord, Medicaid Program Policy Analyst, Division of Medicaid, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0009.

You can read Brown's full report here at, or pick up today's edition of the Idaho Press.

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.

Support Local Journalism


Load comments