Here's a link to my full story at spokesman.com on Gov. Butch Otter's decision today to give the go-ahead for Idaho to apply for nearly $31 million in federal grants to start an Idaho health insurance exchange. Otter remains a firm opponent of the national health care reform legislation that he dubs “Obamacare,” and the state is continuing to press its lawsuit seeking to overturn the law. But Otter said the idea of health insurance exchanges has been around since long before the legislation and was “co-opted” by the national law; he said Idaho's been looking into it since 2007.
Exchanges are envisioned as places or portals where people or small businesses could go to find health insurance they can purchase, see if they're eligible for federal subsidies, and compare costs and benefits. Plans offered on the exchanges would have to comply with guidelines. The state exchanges are a centerpiece of the national health care reform legislation; they'd be designed to let Americans who lack insurance get easier, more affordable access to it. In Idaho, 17 percent of residents lack insurance, but that figure soars to 31 percent for those age 18 to 34.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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