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ID counties mull halting indigent medical payments

By The Associated Press
Published On: Jan 18 2014 09:30:58 AM MST

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Several readers with employer-sponsored insurance say their premiums are going up for 2014, and are blaming the Affordable Care Act. While it's true that health reform is contributing to higher premiums and plan changes, experts say "Obamacare" is not the driving factor. Health care costs are rising because the economy is improving so people are going to the doctor more.

BOISE, Idaho -

Idaho counties are debating whether to quit paying the hospital bills of some indigent patients in the wake of President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
    
Currently, Idaho's 44 counties pay the first $11,000 of an indigent person's medical bills.
    
The state pays the rest, with the total annual price tag now between $50 million and $60 million.
    
The Lewiston Tribune reported last week Idaho Association of Counties executive director Dan Chadwick wants to tinker with the program.
    
Since the ACA now requires everyone be insured, Chadwick contends, those who decline to buy coverage can no longer be considered indigent.
    
If Chadwick's plan were enacted, it could mean hospitals would have to find another revenue source to cover uninsured patients they're required by law to treat.
    
It's still in the discussion stages.