Foes of Idaho health insurance exchange still favor nullification

The 2011 Legislature rejected nullification as a means of halting President Obama’s health insurance overhaul, but the 18th-century state’s rights doctrine was present again at the Idaho Capitol on Tuesday among foes of establishing an insurance exchange.

About 200 people attended the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee’s first hearing on Gov. Butch Otter’s proposal to create a state-based, privately-run online marketplace for individuals and small businesses to buy insurance. Such exchanges are mandated by President Obama’s 2009 law.

Otter’s bill calls for creating a 16-member, governor-appointed board to oversee the marketplace, including consumer advocates, insurance officials, small business representatives and health care providers.

Even though Idaho would get a federally run exchange if it refuses to craft one of its own, opponents of Obamacare insisted at Tuesday’s hearing that the state should simply refuse to do either, as a message to Washington, D.C., to stop meddling in Idaho’s affairs.

David Hensley, Otter’s chief of staff, said the governor doesn’t like the health care overhaul, but Hensley insists that a home-grown exchange will be less expensive for consumers than an exchange run by the federal government – and help ensure that regulation remains in Idaho.

Another day of Senate hearings on the issue is slated for Thursday.  (AP)

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