AARP Idaho is calling Gov. Butch Otter’s decision to opt out of a federally-funded high-risk insurance pool for people with pre-existing conditions a “cop out.”
“Butch Otter has again jumped at the opportunity to be a roadblock to helping people access affordable health care under the new federal health insurance law,” said AARP Idaho executive director Jim Wordelman in a news release. Since Otter and the state opted out, the federal government will create a statewide insurance pool with little input from the state government.
Idaho already has a high-risk insurance pool covering 1,500 people, but an estimated 34,000 Idahoans with pre-existing health conditions are uninsured. Wordelman said the state plan, which charges higher monthly premiums, is pricing out medical coverage for thousands. “Idaho missed an opportunity on this one,” he said. “The governor’s move does nothing to address the real concerns of people in Idaho who continue to struggle with access to affordable health care.”
AARP Idaho, an organization representing 180,000 Idahoans, most of them 50 years or older, also supported the new federal health care laws that created the high-risk pool. Otter and all four of Idaho’s members of Congress opposed the legislation, and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is currently part of a multi-state lawsuit to overturn parts of the new laws that impose a mandate on individuals to buy health insurance.