Idaho Receives Federal Waiver To Cover Medicaid Mental Health Treatment

Apr 20, 2020

Idaho's Medicaid enrollees can now have their costs for mental health treatment covered as part of the Medicaid Expansion program.
Credit Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

The federal government has granted Idaho a waiver that will cover most of the costs of caring for Medicaid patients who receive mental health treatment.

State Medicaid administrator Matt Wimmer says that will benefit people who are in the state’s inpatient mental hospitals and in private psychiatric facilities.

“It is a pretty big deal and it is a big improvement because now we’ll be able to manage those services through the Medicaid program," Wimmer said. "Before this, the Division of Behavioral Health, also with the Department of Health and Welfare, would pay for some of those services. But, now with Medicaid expansion, we’re able to pay for all those services when people have a need for them.

What the government approved is known as an IMD waiver, known as institutes for mental disease. Wimmer says Idaho sought it because Medicare law doesn’t allow payments for services in mental institutions. The proposal had broad support from legislators from both parties.

The citizens group Reclaim Idaho also supported it. Reclaim Idaho gathered the signatures to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot in 2018.

“This is something that really makes the Medicaid Expansion program better than what voters actually voted for. I think that’s why there was so much public support for the IMD waiver," said Reclaim Idaho spokesman Jeremy Gugino.

About 70,000 Idahoans are enrolled in the Medicaid Expansion program.