In order for Idaho to pursue a state-run exchange, the Legislature must sign off this session on spending federal grant dollars. Idaho Department of Insurance Director Bill Deal, Rep. Vito Barbieri (R-Dalton Gardens) and the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry’s Alex LaBeau presented their views of the exchange this morning, offering a preview of the health insurance exchange debate that’s likely to dominate the upcoming session.
The state Department of Insurance is moving forward with plans for a state-run exchange, operating on the assumption that an upcoming Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act will not affect the health exchange component of the law. The department’s most recent draft bill is available here.
Rep. Barbieri says lawmakers should await the Supreme Court decision and says the idea of a state-controlled exchange is “vacuous” because a state-controlled exchange will operate under federal mandates. “Idaho should reject the federal grants and should reject the idea of a publicly-created health care exchange, and allow the private sector to deal with it,” he said.
LaBeau says IACI favors a state exchange on pragmatic grounds. “It’s better to have a citizen in a private insurance system than on the public dole,” he said. He also says quality assurance and citizen complaints would be handled federally under a federal exchange, and that might not be best for Idahoans. “I’d rather deal with Director Deal than with HHS,” LaBeau said.