BOISE -- The House Health and Welfare Committee backed a state-based, nonprofit insurance exchange, saying it wasn't a perfect solution but that it was better than merely accepting a version run from Washington, D.C.
Thursday's vote, with just one representative against the measure, sends it to the House for debate.
Gov. Butch Otter backs Idaho's plan for an online marketplace for individuals and small businesses to buy insurance, arguing it keeps the state in control and will be less expensive than a federal exchange.
Critics say he's acquiescing to federal demands.
Lawmakers went into the meeting this morning with what they believed was the final version of the bill. During this morning's meeting public had a chance to voice its opinions, but that didn't seem to sway lawmakers' minds.
Both views' defenders were in the Capitol Thursday morning.
This legislation before you today is the most critical piece of legislation to have come before the Idaho Legislature in decades, if not in all of history, said Karen Calisterio from the Republican Liberty Caucus of Idaho.
She and her organization are against a state-run exchange.
Passing this legislation now without knowing all the rules and costs is irresponsible at best, said Calisterio. Do you really want to have a seat at the table of tyranny? Do you want to be responsible for the potential destruction of Idaho?
Others, like the Christine Tiddins with the Catholic Charities of Idaho, supports a state-run exchange.
Our goal in advocating for this bill is to promote affordable, high-quality coverage for all people in Idaho, said Tiddins.
Scott Levitt also testified in support of a state-run exchange despite being opposed to the Affordable Health Care Act.
We would support the creation of a state-run exchange, said Levitt. We believe that if we have an Idaho state-based exchange, Idahoans will have more affordable options and more affordable choices to buy and purchase their health insurance.
Even before this morning's meeting lawmakers said they were pretty versed on this issue, not expecting to hear too much testimony that was drastically different than what they've heard over the last few years.
What they did hear today wasn't enough to make any changes to the law since the bill now heads to the entire House for debate.