We’re just hours away from the launch of Idaho’s state insurance exchange. The launch of Obamacare in Idaho. The launch of Ottercare. Did I just say Ottercare? Yes, I did. And I plan to keep on saying it.
For months now, I’ve rejected calls from some of my friends to use the Ottercare label. Even in the midst of the fight over the insurance exchange, I shunned the word, though it rolls so easily from the lips. Honestly, I suppose, I didn’t want to offend. I was wrong. Here’s why:
President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment is the passage of the health care law we call Obamacare. Similarly, Gov. Butch Otter’s signature legislative accomplishment was the passage of the state insurance exchange.
In his two terms in office, Otter has fought for nothing as hard as he fought for the insurance exchange. It is dubious distinction for a politician we used to refer to as “libertarian.” But that choice belongs to the governor, not you or me.
“Ottercare” is no different pejoratively than “Obamacare.” Or Romneycare. Or Hillarycare. Why should Butch be exempted from the same standard as other politicians who have set out to fundamentally change the relationship between government and the people?
Otter is trying to sound as if he is protecting the state from Obamacare by implementing it. If his goal is to protect people from “Obamacare,” then by extension, his claim is that he’s offering an alternative. I question whether an alternative exists, but to give him the benefit of the doubt, that alternative must be something distinct and different, one that is not Obamacare. That’s Ottercare.
Politicians must take total responsibility for their decisions, good and bad. Butch says a state insurance exchange is good for Idaho. Let him prove it. Let him own it.
Speaker Scott Bedke also myopically backed the exchange. So did House Health and Welfare Chairman Fred Wood, a vociferous defender of Obamacare’s individual mandate. Therefore, one could also easily label Idaho’s version of socialized medicine as Bedkecare or Woodcare.
But Butch led the charge. He’s the state’s CEO and top insurance exchange cheerleader. Had Butch not been governor, it is questionable whether the exchange would have come into being. Seriously. Had a Democrat been governor, how would the Republican-led Legislature responded to the implementation of Obamacare? Would they have given the insurance exchange proposal from, say, Keith Allred, serious consideration? Ottercare exists because of Butch Otter and no one else.
This decision departs from other states with conservative leadership that continue to do everything possible to resist the health care law.
My job is to be a government watchdog. It means pure honesty and candor when it comes to the policies advanced by the people in power, whether I like those individuals or not. In this case, I happen to like Butch. He’s wrong on this issue. Colossally wrong. That means Ottercare requires even greater candor and contemplation, not less.
Whatever benefits, or ills, come to Idaho as a result of Idaho’s own implementation of the federal health care law, must belong to Butch.
It if walks like a duck, looks like a duck, acts like a duck … Welcome to Ottercare.