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Eye On Boise

Thu., Feb. 21, 2013, 10:31 a.m.

Cameron: ‘You do not weaken the feds by defaulting to them, you make them stronger’

Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, debates in favor of the state insurance exchange bill in the Senate on Thursday (Betsy Russell)
Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, debates in favor of the state insurance exchange bill in the Senate on Thursday (Betsy Russell)

Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, disclosed under Senate Rule 39 that he makes his living as an insurance agent. He referred to Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, saying Siddoway “has great passion when he talks about wolves. I have a similar passion when it comes to talking about insurance.” Said Cameron, “There’s an analogy that says when it comes to breakfast, a chicken is dedicated, a pig is fully committed. I am the pig in this case.”

Cameron noted that he’s co-chaired the Legislature’s joint Health Care Task Force, and over the years, that panel has worked hard to lower health insurance costs in Idaho through an array of initiatives. “We have been successful,” he said. “We have one of the lowest costs in the nation. … That didn’t happen by accident. … It happened by good leadership, good planning and good decisions by this body.”

Cameron said he opposed the national health care reform law, like most Idaho lawmakers, and has sympathy for the views of opponents of SB 1042. But he said Idaho really has only two choices: A state exchange, or a federal one. One colleague, he said, told him of a third choice: “He said rebellion. That’s not a choice. That’s not a choice for us.”

Cameron called it “really hard to swallow” the idea that somehow insurance agents “don’t know what they’re talking about here.” He said, “All of the insurance industry, all of the small business people that I talk to, all of the individuals, a number of them are saying, ‘We want a state-based exchange. We trust the state better. We want to deal with the state.’ It’s clear, it’s evident, that by refusing to act we default to the federal government.”

He said, “We have the lowest rates in the nation, and the most at risk should we go to a federal exchange. ... There is no doubt … that it will cost Idaho consumers less under a state insurance exchange than it will under a federal exchange.”

"You do not weaken the federal government by defaulting to them," Cameron said. "You do not weaken the federal government by abandoning the field of battle. ... You make them stronger."

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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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