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Idaho Farm Bureau extracts itself from coalition backing state-based health exchange

Idaho Farm Bureau extracts itself from coalition backing state-based health exchange

Dustin Hurst
February 10, 2012
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February 10, 2012

A newly formed coalition lobbying state lawmakers to implement a state-based health exchange over a federal program will have to move forward without the help of the Idaho Farm Bureau.

At a meeting earlier this week, the bureau voted itself out of the coalition, which features Blue Cross of Idaho, the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce and Regence Blue Shield of Idaho, among others.

The Farm Bureau’s spokesman, John Thompson, told IdahoReporter.com Friday that his group is "uncomfortable" with some of the messaging efforts by the coalition, but he didn't give specifics.

In addition to pulling out of the coalition, Thompson said the bureau's board voted to wait until after the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling on the constitutionality of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal law from which exchanges are derived. A ruling in the case, in which Idaho is a challenging party, is expected sometime in June, so the Farm Bureau will likely not weigh in on the exchange debate during Idaho's 2012 legislative session.

Even if the court upholds the federal law, Thompson says the bureau may not back a state-based exchange. The board also voted to hold off on issuing a formal opinion on exchanges until state legislation, outlining in great detail how the program would function, is brought forth.

"With what we know now, we're not comfortable supporting it," Thompson said.

For now, the Farm Bureau is simply not taking a position on any exchange plans.

The exchange is opposed by two interest groups, including the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which believes state and federal exchanges are one in the same, and Idaho Chooses Life says Idaho shouldn't participate in what it says is the federal government's takeover of the health care industry.

Note: IdahoReporter.com is published by the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

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