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House committee advances state insurance exchange proposal

House committee advances state insurance exchange proposal

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
March 4, 2013

A committee of the Idaho House of Representatives has taken yet another step toward making Gov. Butch Otter’s vision for a state health insurance exchange a reality.

The House Health and Welfare Committee Monday approved a legislative proposal presented to them by David Hensley, the governor’s chief of staff, that creates the insurance exchange the governor seeks as a means of complying with federal Obamacare mandates.

During the committee hearing that lasted less than an hour, Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, raised concerns that the proposed structure of the insurance exchange would lack oversight by the Legislature, and would give the executive branch of the Idaho government too much autonomous authority over the exchange’s operation.

"As I read this, the director (the director of the Idaho Department of Insurance) has the actual consent on the bylaws,” Vander Woude said to Hensley. “They inform us what they are doing, but we don't have any real leverage to determine what the bylaws will say."

"As this is written it is clear that the director has to approve the initial bylaws and any changes to the bylaws as a check against the authority of the entity,” Hensley said in response. “That does not diminish or reduce your overall legislative authority down the road."

Vander Woude was the lone member of the committee to vote “no.” He, along with Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise, have been the only two legislators to vote against the governor’s insurance exchange plan in committee. Durst cited the same concerns about Senate Bill 1042 as Vander Woude did. That is, a lack of legislative oversight and involvement.

“I did not have concerns about a lack of legislative oversight with the Senate’s insurance exchange bill,” House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, told IdahoReporter.com. “The House version of the bill has been re-written, however, so I think we’ve addressed people’s concerns with the re-write.”

According to press reports, the proposed bill will be up for a public hearing on Thursday, 7 a.m., in the Capitol Auditorium.

The House committee approved having three legislators included on the health exchange’s oversight board with the three having voting rights. One would come from the House, one from the Senate and one from the minority party.

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