BOISE -- It was about one year ago that the Idaho Legislature decided to create a state-based health insurance exchange, instead of letting the federal government do it.
Thursday, it was time for those running the exchange to report back to lawmakers.
Steven Weeg, the Executive Director and the Chairman of the Board of Your Health Idaho, touted the successes of the exchange, but still had plenty of tough questions to answer about costs, personal information, and abortion coverage.
He gave the first annual report on the state's health insurance exchange to the House Health and Welfare Committee.
I'd like to thank you for the opportunity to visit with you today about the work we have done in an incredibly short period of time, said Weeg.
He touted the fact that they have a streamlined staff, only used federal grant dollars, met all federal regulatory requirements, and while they're still relying on the federal technology platform, created a plan to be a completely self-sustained by 2016. But, lawmakers still had questions, like how the exchange can verify that all the information of enrollees. Weeg says that's done by government agencies.
Much of the information that I would submit through healthcare.gov, the federal government already has, said Weeg.
Lawmakers were also very curious about whether the plans on the exchange would cover abortion services or contraception.
Contraception, yes, but abortion...
No. Idaho Code right now has a ban against abortion coverage for insurers in the state of Idaho, said Weeg.
Committee members were very pleased with the exchange's user fee of 1.5 percent -- a full 2 percentage points lower than the federal exchange, but they wondered if it would stay there.
I wish I had a level of confidence, but in all honesty, we will diligently maintain our rate as low as possible, said Weeg.
Committee Chairman Fred Wood, and all committee members seemed pleased.
You did start with nothing. There were areas and periods of controversy. But you've survived that and done very well, said Wood.
Weeg also addressed a rumor going around that during the enrollment process that people are asked about gun ownership. He says that's not true.
There are three workshops coming up designed to help people enroll.
One is Friday at the Mountain Home Library. There are two on Saturday -- one at the Nampa Library and another at the McCall Library.