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Mr. Governor; It’s Time to Lead

Editorial Board
December 16, 2012
Twin Falls Times-News

Dear Governor Otter: Just two years ago, you defeated your Democratic opponent by nearly a two-to-one margin. It's likely that those who voted for you thought that you would, well, govern. That you would take this 59 percent mandate out for a spin and see what you could accomplish.

Well Mr. Governor, with respect to the State of Idaho setting up a state-based Health Exchange, the time to lead is now.

We get that you don't like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. How could Idahoans have missed your displeasure? You've only stated it every single time you've made a pronouncement regarding the state setting up its own exchange. Heck, you even have an "Idaho Health Care Timeline" in the upper right corner of your website homepage that provides a five-year chronology of your greatest hits in railing against Obamacare.

If no one else already has, we suggest that you "get over it!"

This past Monday you announced that Idaho would indeed implement a state-run health insurance exchange. Well, sort of. Your announcement concluded with the words "my decision today can be rescinded if the Legislature disagrees or (is) withdrawn by me if circumstances warrant - a real possibility on such a constantly moving target."

This, of course, after using earlier paragraphs in the announcement to say:

"This is not a battle of my choosing"

"This decision does not signal support for the law"

"Obamacare is not the answer" and

"It is an unfortunate and unwelcome reality"

So much for getting over it.

Our local legislators Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, and Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, worked tirelessly last session on legislation that would have set up a state health exchange a year ago. A Times-News story dated Feb. 20 indicated the Mini-Cassia legislators felt "their work has paid off." They were wrong; the bill was written but never introduced.

You and the legislature then waited for the Supreme Court to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They didn't, and you responded with "I was surprised by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling." Surprised? Maybe. Hopeful? Absolutely.

You then proceeded to appoint a 13-member workgroup to make a recommendation as to whether or not the state should set up our own exchange or let the Federal government impose one on us. The recommendation from the committee would no doubt serve as political cover for your next move. The time spent by the committee in making their recommendation served the purpose of helping both you and the legislature to "tread water" for a couple of extra months in the hope that Mitt Romney would become President, Republicans would gain control of the Senate, Obamacare would be repealed and fade slowly into the night. Obama was re-elected and Democrats maintained solid control of the Senate. Foiled again.

A week before the election the workgroup advised you to set up the state-based exchange. And still you delayed. Finally, finally, you made your wishy-washy, subject-to-revision, "endorsement" of the state exchange on Monday.

We're sorry, that's just not good enough. It's time to exert leadership - the leadership 59 percent of Idahoans wanted you to exert when they voted to keep you in office.

We completely agree with an earlier statement from Wood. "Why would anyone in their right mind ever want the federal government to manage the exchange? . . . Looking at the federal government's past history, why would you ever want them in charge of your exchange?"

Governor Otter, we urge you to put your shoulder into this issue and convince our legislators and our electorate that Wood is correct; that a state-run exchange is absolutely the way to go.

And if anyone ever confuses that leadership as an indication that you think Obamacare is the way to go, don't worry; we'll have your back.

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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