A resolution being rushed through the Idaho Legislature which calls on the United States Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution in favor of banning a federal health care mandate passed the House State Affairs Committee Monday. The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, received Senate committee approval March 26 and clearance from the full Senate early Monday morning.
The resolution calls on the U.S. Congress to create a 28th Amendment to the Constitution banning a mandate that requires citizens of the country to purchase health insurance. David Hensely, representing the office of the Gov. Butch Otter, said the resolution is simply "expressing the governor's frustration" over the recent passage of federal health care reforms.
Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, questioned Hensely on why Otter would want to block a mandate that would help the federal government save money. King pointed to a policy crafted by the Idaho State Board of Education which requires students at all four-year colleges and universities in Idaho as an example of how, she said, mandates help governments save money. King said that the state mandate was designed to help counties with medical costs incurred to their general funds.
Hensely replied that the state mandate has ways of opting out and that the policy, which had the blessing of the Legislature when it was instilled, was a preventative measure designed to ensure college students aren't a "drain" on county funds.
King, after placing a motion to kill the resolution, said that she thinks that because there is a great need for health insurance in Idaho, the federal reforms are an answer to a large problem. She said the legislative task force assigned to finding solutions for health care on a state level is "creeping" along and that the mandate would aid in solving the problems soon. She added she believes the resolution would only delay health care solutions.
"I don' think we need this bill," said King.
Committee members voted down King's motion to hold the resolution in committee and then voted to send the resolution on to the House for a vote, which is likely to come late in the day Monday or Tuesday morning.
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