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State shouldn't accept Obamacare money

State shouldn't accept Obamacare money

Wayne Hoffman
March 22, 2011
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March 22, 2011

Even though the state of Idaho is suing the federal government over its Obamacare mandates, the state Senate voted last week to voted to accept $2.5 million in federal funds to start down the path of implementation of Obamacare.

By now, you’re certain you misread that last sentence, so I’ll just repeat it: Idaho is a plaintiff in the lawsuit to block Obamacare, claiming it is unconstitutional, but meanwhile, our state Senate has voted 20-15 to accept money to begin putting the law in place. The funding would be used to begin development of a health insurance exchange in Idaho.

Frankly, I think it’s wrong to claim Obamacare is unconstitutional, sue in federal court to block it, but still be willing to accept funding from the very law we’re fighting. The law is either unconstitutional or it’s not. It’s either right or it’s wrong.

Supporters of the spending say state is simply accepting funding to study health insurance exchanges, that the federal government’s offer of money comes with no strings attached and will prevent further federal incursion into state health care matters.

It’s difficult to imagine that the federal government would hand the states cash to develop health insurance exchanges but have nothing to say about how those exchanges operate. Having been down that path many times, it’s surprising that some of our lawmakers are willing to believe the Washington, D.C., bureaucrats and once again play the part of Charlie Brown to the federal government’s Lucy.

The federal government has yet to even say what these health insurance exchanges are supposed to look like, how they are to operate and what they need to contain in order to be compliant with Obamacare.

My friends at the Pacific Research Institute said it best when they said, “States establishing Obamacare exchanges are making a one-way, lose-lose bet. If Obamacare persists, exchanges will become bloated administrative nightmares. If Obamacare is defeated, states will have wasted time and energy that should have been directed towards that effort. Obamacare is President Obama’s problem. Don’t make it your state’s problem.”

An excellent sentiment.

Let me add this: I find it amazing that the federal government, which is drowning in debt, will borrow money from China in order to give it to Idaho so that we can develop health insurance exchanges. Sen. Shawn Keough of Sandpoint argued during the debate on the appropriation that the federal health insurance exchange money coming to Idaho is money that belongs to Idahoans, having paid their taxes to the federal government. Sen. John Tippets of Montpelier correctly answered, “40 percent of that money is no one’s money. It’s debt.”

If Idaho really wants to develop a health insurance exchange, it should follow Utah’s lead and use its own money. Only then can it be assured that we’ll have some semblance of state ownership of the final product.

But then again, maybe the state government shouldn’t be creating a health exchange at all. Maybe Ronald Reagan was right: “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”

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