Idaho’s GOP Governor Will Accept Federal Funds For State Health Exchange

Idaho may be part of a multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, but that isn’t stopping Republican Governor Butch Otter (R) from applying for millions of dollars in federal funding to set up health insurance exchanges. Otter — who has previously tried to claim credit for that particular provision of reform — announced on Tuesday that his state would be better off building its own marketplace than turning it over to the federal government:

“It’s a difficult choice, but one I find far preferable to submitting to a federally established insurance exchange, with all the loss of control over our own destiny that entails,” Otter said in a statement. […]

“My goal is to establish a state-based exchange emphasizing free-market principles and create a competitive marketplace for individuals and businesses to obtain the coverage they need rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all solution that may not be suitable or even workable for Idaho.”

Idaho has until Sept. 30 to apply for the funds, which will help the state construct a market place where individuals and small businesses can compare and purchase comprehensive insurance plans beginning in 2014. The Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry lauded Otter’s decision, saying, “By requesting the grant dollars, Idaho will have the ability to carefully evaluate the actual cost of the development of an exchange and will only use those dollars as necessary.”

In 2010, 31 percent of Idaho residents between the ages of 18 and 34 lacked health insurance. Overall, 17 percent of Idahoans are uninsured, and years of rising costs have pushed the healthiest population to drop coverage.