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Gov. Otter Says Idaho Should Build Its Own Health Insurance Exchange

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Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is opting for a state-based health insurance exchange.

The Republican governor’s office distributed that news late this afternoon in a release that criticizes Obamacare, but says the state must assert its “commitment to self-determination” and fulfill its “responsibility to the rule of law.”

The decision is subject to the Idaho Legislature’s approval.

The full text of the governor’s press release is below.  For analysis and context, see this piece from StateImpact Idaho.

C.L. “Butch” Otter





(BOISE) – Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced today that Idaho is opting for a state-based health insurance exchange under the terms of Obamacare, subject to legislative approval.

“This is not a battle of my choosing, but no one has fought harder against the mandates and overreaching federal authority of the Affordable Care Act. No one has more consistently and clearly demanded that Idaho retain the authority and flexibility to chart our own path forward. There was a judicial process for challenging Obamacare, and the presidential election was at least in part a referendum on its enactment. But despite our best efforts, the law remains in place, and almost certainly will for the foreseeable future. There will be a health insurance exchange in Idaho. The only question is who will build it.

Our options have come down to this: Do nothing and be at the federal government’s mercy in how that exchange is designed and run, or take a seat at the table and play the cards we’ve been dealt. I cannot willingly surrender a role for Idaho in determining the impact on our own citizens and businesses.

“This decision does not signal support for the law or how it is being implemented. However, it does reflect my continued determination for Idaho to be actively engaged in making the best possible choices – to the degree we are allowed – in the interest of more accessible and affordable health care for our citizens.

“Obamacare is not the answer. In fact, it very likely will do little or nothing to reduce costs while force-feeding us coverage and increasing the size and scope of government. But it is an unfortunate and unwelcome reality, and it would be irresponsible of me to simply abandon the field to federal bureaucrats. In the face of uncertainty we must assert our independence and our commitment to self-determination while fulfilling our responsibility to the rule of law.

“The working group I assembled to study our options recommended this response. I greatly appreciate and respect the members of that panel their analysis, both the majority and those in dissent. I also consulted with national experts, many of my fellow governors and our own legislative leaders. I understand and empathize with those who would reject a role in this process, as some other states have done. I know that for many this is not a matter of consensus but rather of individual conscience, and I know the earnest and well-intentioned debate will continue.

“I take some comfort in the fact that even those disagreeing with this decision strongly believe as I do in Idaho’s ability to be more responsive and do a better job than the federal government alone of ensuring our citizens can make informed choices about their health care.

“All the criticisms of the exchange mandate that I and many others have expressed remain valid and troubling. The law is governed by an evolving set of increasingly complex rules and requirements. It is onerous, unwieldy and fraught with unknowns. That makes it all the more important to remember that my decision today can be rescinded if the Legislature disagrees or withdrawn by me if circumstances warrant – a real possibility on such a constantly moving target. But with what we know today, this is our best option.”


  • celeyonn

    Had the Idaho state government opted to use the federal exchange, the citizens of Idaho would have saved considerable money and time, would have access to a health
    exchange which by default meets federal guidelines, would have allowed selection
    from the broadest possible range of health plans and prices, and would have disallowed
    the Idaho state government from continuing to play politics with one of the most
    important facets of Idahoans lives – affordable health care. I personally don’t wish
    to be limited to the vision of decent health care that the Idaho state government
    seems to want to “saddle me with” (so to speak). Idaho state government appears
    to be hitting about 0 for 4 with recent major decisions, with the last being the Luna fiasco. And for the next act we will have an “Idaho built health exchange”. What this means is that Idaho state government will do a major contract with some “cronies”
    software firm, spend millions of dollars needlessly, build in significant limitations
    to satisfy other “cronies”, and if all goes well have a system that we could have
    and should have had for much, much less. This has the smell that the proposed
    HP laptop lease plan had. Then it will be 0 for 5.

    • Boise Bob

      Hey celeyonn, get all government out of healthcare. It is costing me enough to pay for my own family’s healthcare, and now, thanks to Obamacare, I will have to pay for the healthcare of deadbeats. Obamacare has already dramatically increased the cost of healthcare, increased taxes and has doctors no longer accepting Medicare patients. Obamacare is a disaster for the US healthcare system. That’s what happens when you have liberals write a 2,000+ page bill and then not bother reading it before passing it.

      • celeyonn

        Yeah, you are fine until you develop a meaningful health problem I
        and guarantee you won’t be able to find health care insurance under any
        circumstance. I sure as hell am not a deadbeat – but developing a
        sarcoma a couple of years back (when I was 63) would have precluded me from finding any type of coverage – other than that fortunately I was
        able to get on my wifes group coverage since she is a school teaches.
        Look around and read a little. The US is the ONLY first tier country
        which does not have single payer health insurance. Meanwhile the US has almost 30% of its population uninsured which means they use the E R for a stubbed toe. Not the most cost effective approach I think. There are no statistics regarding the cost of Obamacare since it is not yet fully implemented. Unless you absolutely know you and your loved ones are going to be healthy all your lives – you better learn a little before stating how
        terrible Obamacare is going to be. Yet you probably don’t flinch when the military pays 30 grand for a toilet seat !!

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