Idaho Senate committee gets first look at health insurance exchange proposal

Gov. Butch Otter

Gov. Butch Otter

After nearly four years of national debate over federal health care reform and a good two years or more of debate on the issue in Idaho, the first proposal to legislatively create a state health insurance exchange was expected to be revealed Tuesday.

The Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee is scheduled to take up the legislation, a draft of which stipulates that the operating details of a state insurance exchange would be determined by the Idaho Department of Insurance, with minimal oversight from elected members of the Legislature.  How closely the official legislation will match the draft will not be known until the committee hearing.

After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld large portions of the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, each of the 50 states were faced with a federal mandate requiring them to either set up a state-based exchange; allow the federal government to do it; or pursue a “hybrid” approach to an exchange with both state and federal resources.

Last July, Otter assembled an advisory committee that overwhelmingly recommended a state-based exchange, and in December Otter announced that he would follow that recommendation. (

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