Bringing the Economy Home

Idaho Awaits Outcome Of Health Insurance Exchange Bet

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Idaho Department of Insurance Director Bill Deal advocated for a state-run health insurance exchange at the AP Legislative Preview in January.

Mitt Romney laid out his health care plan this morning, as the Supreme Court nears a decision on the constitutionality of the federal health care law.  It’s the first time Romney has discussed the specifics of his proposals since a speech in Michigan last year, the Los Angeles Times says.

The Washington Post sums up Romney’s plan this way:

“Romney said he wants to make the nation’s health-care system more like a consumer market, likening it to the tire, automobile and air-filter markets that he said keep costs down and quality up. To do so, he said, he would allow individuals and small businesses to buy insurance coverage with the same tax advantage that larger businesses enjoy and to purchase insurance across state lines or join organizations to give them bargaining power with insurers.” — The Washington Post

Romney also vowed to pursue the law’s repeal if he is elected “by granting a waiver to all 50 states to opt out of the law’s restrictions,” the article says.

It’s a course of action that would no doubt meet favorable response here in Idaho.  State legislators passed on the opportunity to establish a state-run health insurance exchange during the 2012 legislative session, prompting anxiety among some lawmakers.

Rep. Fred Wood (R-Burley), a retired physician and former director of the Cassia Regional Medical Center, said in April that he believed state legislators were taking a significant risk in deciding not to pursue a state-run exchange. “They’re betting that the Supreme Court will strike down the entire law,” he said.  “And if we bet the wrong way, it could be very costly for the state.”

Costly, Wood said, because states that create their own exchanges will have some discretion to set the essential benefits that must be provided by insurers. States falling under the federal plan likely won’t have that flexibility.

A summary of the Supreme Court’s three days of hearings on the Affordable Care Act is available here.


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