Prominent legislators agree the Idaho Legislature is hard to predict. “You know, the interesting thing about the legislature is you never really know what the big issues are going to be until you get there,” said House Majority Leader Mike Moyle (R-Star), when asked what he thinks will be the defining debates in the 2012 session. “You get down there and there’s something that pops up that’s a big issue and you never thought it would be.” That said, there is consensus that whether or not Idaho should create a state-run health insurance exchange will be one of the biggest questions before legislators in the months ahead.
Health insurance exchanges are a primary component of the Affordable Care Act. By their most basic description, exchanges are new organizations — marketplaces — created to make available health insurance options more clear and more competitive. In the health insurance market, individuals and small businesses don’t have perfect information or a great deal of bargaining power with insurers. A health insurance exchange would lay out the private and public health insurance options, explaining plans in terms of benefit levels and costs.
Under the Affordable Care Act, states can create their own exchanges or wait for the federal government to do it for them. Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter supports the creation of a state-run exchange, and Idaho has moved forward to receive a series of federal grants. Many Idaho legislators, however, are not convinced the state should establish its own exchange. Continue Reading