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Go local on health exchange

Couer d''Alene Press Editorial Board
December 9, 2012
Couer d'Alene Press

If they're successful, the forces that most ardently oppose Idaho forming a state health insurance exchange would get what they hate most: More federalism right in their faces.

Instead, we're encouraging Gov. Butch Otter to notify the federal government that Idaho will create its own exchange rather than rely on the feds to do it for us. Because Idaho is a relatively healthy state with foundations in efficient government and business, we are better poised than most states to create our own exchange or, as some have suggested, designate an Idaho-based nonprofit corporation to run the show.

Basically, the exchange will be an online marketplace where consumers can compare different insurance plans' benefits and costs. Gov. Otter has until this Friday to declare which way Idaho will go - state or federal - and then the exchange must be operational by Jan. 1, 2014.

Local control is clearly preferable by the majority of the people who have rigorously and objectively studied the issue. The Governor's Healthcare Exchange Task Force, a work group of diverse Idahoans from various professional backgrounds, devoted themselves to months of intensive research and study. When they emerged from all that knowledge absorption they recommended a state-based exchange vs. a federal one by a 10-2 vote.

They're far from alone. A statewide alliance of businesses that provide health care for tens of thousands of employees has done its own research and strongly recommended the state-based exchange. So have a host of medical providers and health-care insurance interests. And not because it feels good to say no to the feds: According to task force member Rep. John Rusche, the federal option would cost Idahoans $120 million more for the same insurance they're purchasing now.

Exchanges, run by either the states or the federal government, are part of President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Either Idaho develops its online marketplace or it defaults and allows Washington, D.C., to do so for us. Why does anyone in Idaho think the federal government would manage this better than we can ourselves?

Well, we don't think anyone does. Much of the resistance in Idaho hasn't been to state-run exchanges per se, but to Obamacare in general. But that battle has come and gone, and our governor has less than a week now to declare his preference.

In Idaho, we do many things better at lower cost than most states, and a darn sight better than the federal government. This is no time to doubt our ability to manage ourselves. It's time to roll up our sleeves and work hard on our own health-care exchange.

Originally posted at

The editorial posted here is provided by permission of its original publisher and does not necessarily reflect the views of Idaho Public Television.

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