Idaho Obamacare

Idaho is on its way to becoming the first Republican-controlled state in the nation to implement a state insurance exchange under President Obama’s health care law. The Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee voted for the state insurance exchange, backed by Gov. Butch Otter on Thursday.

Sens. John Tippets, Jim Patrick, Dean Cameron, John Goedde, Jim Guthrie, Fred Martin, Todd Lakey and Dan Schmidt voted for Senate Bill 1042. Only Boise Democrat Branden Durst voted no. The measure now goes to the full Senate.

The committee took its action even though all the evidence suggests that the state gains nothing by administering the federal law. Proponents claim Idahoans will save money under a state exchange, even though just a few months ago we were told the opposite was true. Facts are stubborn things, John Adams said. So Idaho lawmakers choose to ignore them.

The federal government writes the rules for how an exchange works; the state gets no say. And if you think the state does get some kind of control, check out Utah, where Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s negotiations with the federal government over Utah’s pre-Obamacare insurance exchange proved fruitless. Utah is opting to cover businesses, not individuals, under its exchange. Even that idea is still subject to federal approval.

Herbert told the American Enterprise Institute the other day that he didn’t want his state to be the face of the health care reform law. “Frankly, I don’t want to be on the receiving end of phone calls, which I believe will happen, where individuals are going to say, ‘Hey, I’m getting a call from the IRS and they’re wanting my tax money to pay a penalty because I haven’t signed up for their insurance program,’” Herbert said.

But Idaho lawmakers think Idaho is different. They wait at the imaginary table in Washington, D.C., to have an imaginary confab with federal officials, who will promptly ignore them. But hey, at least we have exercised state control.

Sen. Patrick even went as far as to say he’s “too conservative” to allow the federal government’s entry into Idaho with its insurance exchange. Interesting statement, given that groups like the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, the Idaho Farm Bureau and the Cato Institute insist the state’s move does nothing to advance conservatism or state sovereignty.

But alas, the bill doesn’t assist sovereignty at all. It surrenders it. Even supporters of a state insurance exchange acknowledge the bill before lawmakers serves as a complete and absolute dereliction of the Legislature’s oversight responsibilities. The bill creates a supposed non-government agency that will assess some kind of unknown fee to unknown persons or businesses for unknown amounts of money.

The most the Legislature can do is approve the governor’s appointments to the insurance exchange board. And should a future Idaho governor decide to go full-tilt embracing of Obamacare, there is little the Legislature will be able to do about it.

Some lawmakers even told me they’re looking for as much distance from the future insurance exchange as possible. They don’t want to hold responsibility when the insurance exchange starts implementing Obamacare’s fines, taxes and outrageous insurance premium increases. Great plan if you are politician. Bad for the rest of us. Only Sen. Durst, a professed state exchange supporter, acknowledged the wrongness of the legislation under consideration.

Our future hinges on what the Legislature does. Will the state become a tool for Obamacare or an obstacle? Will Idaho embrace the free market, or abandon it? A hopeful nation is watching.

3 Responses to “Idaho Obamacare”

  1. Michael White 14 February 2013 at 12:30 PM #

    Thank You Wayne, I have been seeing a lot of angry posts on FB (finally) about the exchange being set up in Idaho. We must stop obamacare from coming here or get rid of it when it does come. It is ALL BAD!
    Below is one of the posts regarding SB1042. What are your thoughts please?!. Mike (I was at the McGees handed you a card after) I see the best exchange as NO EXCHANGE!
    We The People Resolution #1: No State-run Health Insurance Exchange

    If you like, print out this resolution and call 332-1000. Read the points off to your legislators. We have to have a large push here. Tell the lawmakers to say “NO” to a state-run, federally controlled health insurance exchange. (Please share with your friends.)

    We The People Resolution #1: No State-run Health Insurance Exchange

    WHEREAS Idaho Lawmakers are currently debating one of the most critically important issues of our lifetime.

    WHEREAS government and insurance-controlled healthcare has failed the needy, stolen the American Dream, and indebted our future and our children’s future to foreign nations.

    WHEREAS the US Supreme Court has ruled that “The Federal Government does NOT have the power to order people to buy health insurance.”

    WHEREAS the US Supreme Court has reminded states that they are “separate and independent sovereigns” and admonished them “To act like it!”

    WHEREAS obamacare and the rules which originate from it are projected to double the cost of health insurance premiums in Idaho.

    WHEREAS the implementation of a state insurance exchange, while officially consistent with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of federal law, will disrupt Idaho’s delicate balance of power and weaken our system of federalism.

    WHEREAS requirement to provide minors free contraception and sterilization is an attack on strong families and our freedom of religion.

    WHEREAS 42 cents of every healthcare dollar is currently consumed by government, INSURANCE, and administration.

    WHEREAS the implementation of a state insurance exchange will do nothing to lower or curtail the increase in health care costs for the citizens of Idaho.

    WHEREAS the health insurance lobby has contributed significantly to the election campaigns of many Idaho legislators.

    WHEREAS members and longtime supporters of the health insurance lobby dominated the governors’ healthcare task force which refused to discuss any free market alternatives that could potentially save the citizens of Idaho up to 3 billion dollars each year!

    WHEREAS the health insurance lobby is actively attempting to solicit votes in favor of a state insurance exchange, which will pad their pockets in the near future; but which will cost an additional 4 thousand dollars annually for every man, woman, and child, and which will ultimately destroy the health insurance industry.

    WHEREAS the health insurance lobby wants to fool our lawmakers into believing that implementing a state insurance exchange is the preferred solution for complying with the federal mandate.

    WHEREAS implementing a state insurance exchange unwisely delegates legislative authority to the Governor through something called “an independent body corporate and politic.” (Haven’t we seen enough “corporate and politics”? Are there not free market alternatives?)

    WHEREAS at least 25 other states have opted to default to a federal exchange and 34 have refused to fully implement a state exchange as Governor Otter has proposed to do in Idaho.

    WE RESOLVE to communicate with our legislators and tell them to join the other states that are actively resisting Federal and insurance industry coercion; to embrace free-market alternatives to federal control of healthcare; to preserve the states’ ability to litigate against the travesty known as obamacare; to stand up for the rights and sovereignty of Idaho citizens;

    and to vote NO on SB1042!

  2. chuck cahoon 18 February 2013 at 1:36 PM #

    Break out the tar and feathers. I’m sik and tired of trying to reason with these yo yo’s. Let em eat pie, cow pie !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. john livingston 20 February 2013 at 4:02 PM #

    No exchange = a Federal Exchange