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Testimony: ‘Best path forward,’ ‘At their own ignorance,’ ‘Reduce the complexity’

Peggy Munson of AARP was the first to testify at Thursday's public hearing on a state health insurance exchange. (Betsy Russell)
Peggy Munson of AARP was the first to testify at Thursday's public hearing on a state health insurance exchange. (Betsy Russell)

Peggy Munson, a retired geriatric nurse and the state volunteer president of the AARP, was the first person called to testify at this afternoon’s insurance exchange hearing. She said while some are saying Idaho should do nothing to comply with health care reform, “These are not choices we have.” Munson said , “Please make no mistake, whether Idaho chooses a state-based health exchange or defaults to a federal exchange, the fact of the matter is there will be a health exchange in Idaho whether we like it or not. Therefore, we respectfully urge your support of this bill so that Idaho will have the opportunity … to control its own insurance marketplace.” She said, “A state-based exchange managed by Idahoans for Idahoans is the best path forward.”

Tom Munds of Caldwell said he was “representing the constitutional republic of the state of Idaho.” He told the committee, “As Americans it’s our duty to challenge government authority whenever necessary.” He said he has “a genuine concern” about “the constant increasing barrage of assaults on our personal liberties … and the forceful submission to blind mandates.” He said of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices who upheld the national health care reform law, “They are nothing more than nine tyrants or nine King Georges in black robes,” and called the exchange a “monstrosity.” Said Munds, “The simple fact that Idaho would even consider a monster like this scares me. If the people truly prefer a form of government foreign to our Constitution, then they do so at their own ignorance.”

Jeanne Brandone told the senators, “I’m here to speak on behalf of Idaho’s small-business owners.” She said, “A vote for a state-run exchange is a vote to reduce the complexity of shopping for health insurance, saving our residents time and money. … It gives our Idaho insurance brokers a fighting chance to maintain current best practices.”

Terry Yohn noted that more than two dozen other states are opting against a state exchange. “Has in fact our Congress, have they looked at the other states, what they based this do-nothing decision on? I have no information on that,” he said. “I guess I have to say, ‘Wait a minute, maybe there is other alternatives out there that we know nothing about. … I’m not the only concerned citizen that would like to have more information.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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