The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) cost-sharing plan for a Medicaid program is slightly ahead of projections and is bringing in more dollars than expected.
During the 2010 legislative session, DHW staffers told state lawmakers that the agency could save $200,000 in the Medicaid budget by implementing a plan asking parents of some severely disabled children for a co-pay based on family income. Legislators barely passed the proposal and DHW commenced billing May 1, 2010.
After six months of payments from parents, DHW has taken in $114,329, though it sent out invoices amounting to $396,811. One stipulation for plan approval was that the department could not force parents to pay into the program or affect credit ratings of individuals for non-payments, so that could be one of the causes of the low payment rate, which stands at about 28 percent.
The Medicaid program, known as Katie Beckett, costs the state $37 million annually for the 2,150 recipients of its services. The aim of the program is to allow children to live with their parents and receive in-home care at a lower cost rather than being institutionalized, typically a very expensive experience.
Parents are asked to pay for services based on their income levels. For those families making $2,500 a month or less, the average bill from DHW is about $10. For those making $10,000 or more each month, DHW asks for about $473.
Families making between $5,000 and $7,500 on a monthly basis had the highest rate of payment return, sending in 403 of the 1,070 bills mailed by the agency for a rate of 38 percent. Those in the lowest income bracket – making between $0 and $2,500 – had the lowest percentage of payments made to the department, sending in six of 29 requests for a rate of 21 percent. Interestingly enough, those making $10,000 or more per month were second-lowest in payment rates. Families in that income bracket sent in 107 of 394 billing requests, amounting to 27 percent.
DHW spokesman Tom Shanahan told IdahoReporter.com that even though the department is getting all money for which it asks, the agency is still grateful for what it gets. “We appreciate the people who voluntarily pay a fair share to the program for their child’s services when they have the means,” said Shanahan. “Their payments go right back into preserving services for other vulnerable Idahoans who may not have resources of their own.”