BOISE -- Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter wants Idaho will build its own health insurance exchange. A state-based exchange would still be subject to approval of the Idaho Legislature.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had given governors until Dec. 14 to decide how they would implement the federally-mandated exchange.
“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," said Otter. "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."
Otter says he was not willing to surrender control over how that exchange is designed and run to the federal government.
“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," said Otter.
Previously, a governor-appointed panel told Otter to adopt a state-based exchange.
“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," said Otter.
A health insurance exchange is part of President Obama's overhaul where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for insurance via an Internet portal.