Highlights for Tuesday, Jan. 15:
Sen. Durst, now 33, gets to be preacher for a day
Tuesday was Boise Sen. Branden Dursts 33rd birthday and he filled in for Senate Chaplain James Wibberding, offering a prayer to open the floor session with an appeal to touch all 105 Idaho lawmakers.
Durst, D-Boise, asked that lawmakers feel the hand of God.
Lord, I pray for each and every one here today that you ... guide them in the direction that would be in accordance with your will, Lord.
Lord, I just pray especially for all of our lawmakers in this building that you would give them hearts to see and they would be able to reach out and use your compassion and your mercy to do that, Lord. I thank you for your desire to work through us, Lord, your desire to have relationship with us, Lord.
Senator backs paying foster parents more
Officials with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare say the state's reimbursement payments to foster parents are among the lowest in the nation.
Now some lawmakers are supporting a proposal to boost those payments by about a dollar a day.
Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, said Monday that he once looked into becoming a foster parent himself. Vick views the budget request as more justified than others that have come before the Legislature's budget-setting committee.
Last year the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare asked for a $1 million boost to foster parent reimbursements. Lawmakers granted half that, marking the first increase to the program in about seven years.
This year, the department is asking for the other half, a $500,000 increase.
Project gets people out of institutions
The first year of the Department of Health and Welfares Money Follows the Person program moved 64 patients.
Paul Leary, Medicaid administrator, told JFAC that 16 people from intermediate care facilities to the states developmentally disabled waiver program; 47 moved out of nursing homes and went on the aged and disabled waiver program in the community; and one moved out of a facility and now just gets the states enhanced Medicaid benefit. All patients are elderly, blind or disabled.
Next year will be the third year of the five-year demonstration grant, which provides transitional services and support. Next year's grant funds total $555,300.
For a patient in an intermediate care facility, Medicaid spends $94,063 a year; in a nursing home, $72,350 a year; on the DD waiver in the community, $55,382; and on the aged and disabled waiver in the community, $22,814.
Betsy Russell, Spokesman Review
Whats happening at the Legislature?
Contact a legislator, find out about new bills, see the agendas for the House and Senate and read what is on tap for all legislative committees at www.legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/agenda.htm.