The Idaho Legislature’s health care task force will focus on the Supreme Court’s health care decision in its day-long meeting on Monday. The 14-member group will hear from Department of Insurance Director Bill Deal and Department of Health and Welfare Director Richard Armstrong, among others.
The Monday gathering comes days before Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s two health care working groups hold their inaugural meetings, scheduled for August 2 and August 6. The governor appointed the two groups to study the main questions that arose for the state when the Supreme Court upheld the main components of President Obama’s health care law. Those questions are: should Idaho create a state-run health insurance exchange, and should it opt into the law’s Medicaid expansion?
Health care task force co-chair Sen. Dean Cameron (R-Rupert) says he doesn’t want the task force to get ahead of the governor’s working groups. “I think the governor has taken a very thoughtful approach,” he said. “What’s important is that the legislature keeps pace. We don’t want to be so far behind that we can’t catch up to [the governor] when the session starts.”
Cameron says it’s the job of the task force to provide the legislature with information, and encourage legislators to keep an open mind. That, of course, may be a challenge, given the contentious nature of discussions around the health care law in Idaho. House Speaker Lawerence Denney (R-Midvale) and House Majority Leader Mike Moyle (R-Star) recently issued a strongly-worded joint statement saying that Idaho should not implement the health care law. “Resistance usually comes at a cost, but the state of Idaho must resist Obamacare,” they wrote.
Sen. Cameron, on the other hand, supported the health insurance exchange last session, and believes the Medicaid expansion may be in the state’s best financial interest, based on the information he has gathered so far.
“I think everybody has their tendencies or their leanings based on what they know about the marketplace, their life experience, and their feelings about the federal government,” Sen. Cameron observed.