“There is a big difference,” he says, between Obamacare and a state health insurance exchange. He says the Idaho exchange was crafted in Idaho to address needs as identified by Idahoans, not put together by bureaucrats in Washington. “That was one of the first things that came up when we started working on our health care reform and our health care needs in Idaho in ’07. I called a bunch of folks from all aspects of the health care industry together and said, ‘OK, what should health care in Idaho look like?’ The whole idea of insurance exchanges, which is providing insurance packages, providing a certain level of co-pay, providing a certain level of deductible, all of those things. We’ve been working on that since ’07. It was just co-opted into the Obamacare bill.”
Idaho was ahead of the curve in supporting health care exchanges, says the governor, citing, for example, his support of keeping children on a family insurance plan until they were 23. “All Obamacare did is say we’re going to make it 26. So there were a lot of things that we were doing but for the most part they were all voluntary. We weren’t compelling people to do anything.”
Otter is still not a fan of the law, however. In April, the Governor issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies from implementing the law. “[N]o executive branch department, agency, institution or employee of the state shall establish or amend any program or promulgate any rule to implement any provisions” of the law, the directive states. The state has also passed legislation nullifying the law, something it cannot legally accomplish.
Meanwhile, HHS reports that it has “awarded $27.9 million in new grant funding” to the state.