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Nothing mature about implementing Obamacare

Nothing mature about implementing Obamacare

Wayne Hoffman
January 6, 2012
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January 6, 2012

The word of the day is “maturity.” As in: “Politicians demonstrate maturity when they put aside their fear about Obamacare and implement the law.” Maturity.

Gov. Butch Otter told reporters a few days ago that Idaho must move forward with the creation of a state health insurance exchange, as required by Obamacare, lest the federal government cut its contribution to the state’s Medicaid program.

“We’re facing a $300 million expense” if the state doesn’t create a health insurance exchange, Otter warned. “We’re either going to have to raise taxes, which I see no appetite for that, or we’re going to have to cut from someplace else.” Otter said it’s one more reason the state should move ahead with the insurance exchange.

I consider Butch Otter a friend. We have a common mentor, the late Ralph Smeed. I think Butch’s heart is in the right place. But by golly, I don’t buy the $300 million claim. Following the governor’s comment, I’ve been in contact with health policy experts all over the country. Not a one had heard – until Otter’s statement on Thursday – of the federal government threatening to reduce its Medicaid funding for states that don’t implement Obamacare.

John Graham of the Pacific Research Institute, which has been tracking Obamacare since it was a gleam in Barack Obama’s eye, told IdahoReporter.com Thursday that the governor is incorrect. “I’m quite certain (the Medicaid funding reduction) is not in the law. This is the first time I’ve heard of it. No one’s ever heard of it. I don’t know where he’s making this up from.”

Idaho Freedom Foundation Policy Analyst Erik Makrush, who happened to be attending a healthcare conference in Albuquerque, also shopped Otter’s claim and found a roomful of healthcare experts mystified by Otter’s statement.

Nonetheless, the Idaho Statesman, following the governor’s remarks, gushed about how Otter’s stance on Obamacare demonstrates his maturity since his time in the Legislature and as lieutenant governor. The Otter of the 1970s and 1980s would have scoffed at federal blackmail. The 21st century Otter acquiesces to it, and acquiescence to government edicts is a trait the Statesman prefers from its politicians. Acquiescence is a sign of maturity.

Statesman editorial writer Kevin Richert blogged last week from a panel discussion in which Rep. Vito Barbieri, The Immature (in the eyes of the Statesman), urged lawmakers to hold off on agreeing to a state health insurance exchange.

Wrote Richert, “11:40 a.m.: And the s-word. Barbieri calls the health care law socialism, and says socialist policy did not make America what it is.”

I can almost see my old buddy Kevin rolling his eyes as he typed.

Not all of us are going quietly into the night. Even folks who are at odds recognize the dangers of caving to a federal government gone wild.

A few days ago, I had a chance to sit down with a group of political and business leaders from north Idaho. Local political dynamics have caused these good people to be somewhat quarrelsome in recent months. But these leaders unanimously agreed to oppose implementation of Obamacare in Idaho. Not a negative word about anyone else in the room was spoken. They put aside their differences because in the cause of freedom, they are united.

Now that’s maturity.

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