Idaho signs law against health care reform

Credit: Mike Di Donato

Idaho signs law against health care reform


by Nishi Gupta
Idaho's NewsChannel 7


Posted on March 18, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 19 at 10:10 AM

BOISE -- Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed a measure requiring his attorney general to sue the federal government if Congress passes health care reform.

Legal experts say the measure, signed Wednesday, will likely be struck down.  Idaho's new law reflects growing frustration with President Barack Obama's health care proposal.

Idaho lawmakers who supported the new state law say the government has no business getting in the health insurance business -- and they're taking a stand.

But the AARP believes the new law can be summed up as partisan politics and as a waste of time.

David Irwin with AARP, says the Legislature is attacking health care policy that doesn't exist. 

Though the impact of the law to sue the federal government is unknown, he wonders if it could compromise money that helps the elderly and children.

"When we're saying no to the federal government on one front, are we also going to be saying no to our federal matching funds when it comes to Medicare and the State Children's Health Insurance program?" said Irwin.

"How can somebody mandate us because we're breathing to buy health insurance?" said Rep. Jim Clark.

Clark says Idaho must protect it's ability to think for itself.

"And it's one size fits all which isn't going to work and Idaho is now saying in code, not by proclamation, but in code we're not going to stand for that," said Clark.

But Irwin says health insurance is already hard to come by for some Idahoans, and this law could make it worse.

"This legislation is a gamble and do we really want to take a gamble at a time when they need access and affordability most?" Irwin said.

According to the AARP, the law sets aside a minimum of $100,000 in case the state goes to court.

The governor defended that as a good use of taxpayer money.

"We also recognize you've got to spend a little money to get a little money or in this case, save the state a lot of money," said Otter.

Legislation similar to Idaho's is pending in as many as 37 other states nationwide.

Democrats in the nation's capital are hoping to pass health care reform by this weekend.

The American Legislative Exchange Council created the model legislation for Idaho and other states. The Washington, D.C.-based non-profit says Idaho is the first to sign a version into law.

Associated Press contributed to this report.