Bringing the Economy Home

Lobbying Efforts Heat Up As Idaho’s Health Insurance Exchange Hearing Is Scheduled

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Idahoans will have a chance to weigh in on whether the state should create its own health insurance exchange tomorrow at the Capitol.

The Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee will spend Tuesday and Thursday hearing the health insurance exchange bill written by the Governor’s administration.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter reversed course late last year and announced his support for a state-based exchange, once it became clear the federal health care law is here to stay. Now, states must decide whether to create their own online insurance marketplace, partner with the federal government, or allow the feds to build and maintain the state-specific exchanges.

Otter is now in campaign-mode for the state-based exchange. His office has set up a webpage dedicated to the effort, and they’ve launched a petition.

There’s also an effort underway to encourage the Legislature to reject Otter’s state-based insurance exchange. The Idaho Freedom Foundation, a conservative lobbying group, has its own anti-exchange petition. They’ve also created a Facebook event to encourage their supporters to testify against the health exchange bill.

The conservative National Taxpayers Union has also gotten involved. The organization sent this letter to lawmakers encouraging them to vote against Otter’s health insurance exchange.

As the Idaho Statesman pointed out last week, the state Senate isn’t a unified voice on the matter. Sen. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian) has come out strongly against the insurance exchange, while is colleague Sen. Dean Cameron (R-Rupert) supports it.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 19 states have declared intent to build a state-based exchange, 25 have defaulted to a federal exchange, and seven are planning a partnership exchange.

Tuesday’s hearing on the health insurance exchange bill, SB 1042, begins at 1:30. You’ll be able to watch the hearing live online, here.


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