A reluctant Idaho budget panel approved $250,000 to push the state into compliance with an Obamacare reporting requirement.
That’s what happens when the federal government has, more or less, a gun to the Legislature’s head.
On Monday, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee allotted the dollars to prevent the federal government from fining the state up to $350,000 a year for ignoring a rule that requires the state to prove it’s providing health insurance for its more than 24,000 workers.
As part of Obamacare, large employers must verify to the federal government they are providing a certain level of health insurance to employees working more than 30 hours each week. Federal guidelines classify a large employer as any business with more than 50 workers.
The verification forms will be sent electronically to the Internal Revenue Service, and each state employee will also receive a digital copy. The verification process begins Jan. 1, 2015, and Idaho must submit its first report to the IRS by Jan. 31, 2016.
If Idaho rejects compliance, the federal government can fine Idaho $50 per employee up to $250,000 for failing to report to the IRS, plus up to another $100,000 for not delivering insurance coverage to workers.
The budget committee supported the spending request on a 19 to 1 vote. Only Sen. Sheryll Nuxoll, R-Grangeville, opposed the outlay.
Committee co-chair, Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, suggested she isn’t a boisterous supporter of the expense.
“It isn't always happy-type work that we do here,” Bell said. “But we do stay law-abiding.”
The bill now heads to the Senate floor for further hearing.