Idaho legislators request three new reports from the Office of Performance Evaluations
Reports on the Idaho Health Data Exchange, hospital payment rates and forensic death investigations are due next year
The Idaho State Capitol building is reflected in the Joe R. Williams building on March 23, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
Idaho legislators have asked the Office of Performance Evaluations to produce reports on the Idaho Health Data Exchange’s bankruptcy, Medicaid hospital rates and forensic death investigations.
The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee that oversees the Office of Performance Evaluations voted Thursday to request separate, formal reports on each of the three topics that will be delivered to the 2024 Idaho Legislature.
The Office of Performance Evaluations is a nonpartisan watchdog agency that produces independent reports on whether state agencies or programs are operating cost effectively and achieving their desired results.
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Approving requests for three new evaluation reports for next year is a significant step after House Republicans voted to eliminate the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee and move oversight of the Office of Performance Evaluations under the authority of a different committee controlled by Republicans. However, the bill to eliminate the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee did not have the support to pass the Senate.
Instead, the Legislative Council finally appointed members to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on March 14, which allowed the Joint Legislative Committee to resume holding meetings, accept a new report showing shortages in Idaho’s direct care workforce and vote Thursday on three new reports for 2024.
Legislators proposed a total of six potential areas for 2024 studies and settled on requesting three.
Reports requested will focus on health care issues, region’s overburdened pathology labs
House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, and House Speaker Mike Moyle, R-Star, requested a report into why the Idaho Health Data Exchange, a nonprofit organization that provides a centralized repository of health records, filed for bankruptcy in August. The Idaho Capital Sun previously reported the Idaho Health Data Exchange owed its creditors $4 million and was the subject of three lawsuits at the time of filing bankruptcy.
Rubel also requested the second report on Medicaid hospital rates, saying she wanted to see how Idaho hospital payment rates compare to Medicaid and other programs. Rubel said the findings of the report could help policymakers increase the stability and predictability of Medicaid expenses.
Finally, Reps. Colin Nash, D-Boise; Britt Raybould, R-Rexburg; and Rod Furniss, R-Rigby, requested the report on forensic death investigations in the state. Nash told legislators he worries about the quality of forensic death investigations because of overburdened pathology labs in Ada County and Spokane, Washington, and a lack of qualifications required to become a coroner in Idaho. With high profile investigations into the killings of four University of Idaho students in Moscow and the ongoing Chad Daybell/Lori Vallow cases out of Eastern Idaho, Nash said it is time to take a close look at the quality of forensic death investigations in Idaho.
Once completed, the reports will be presented to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee during the 2024 legislative session.
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