Eye On Boise

Debate: ‘We don’t really have any oversight,’ ‘Duty to resist’

Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, debates against Gov. Butch Otter's health insurance exchange bill in the Senate on Thursday (Betsy Russell)
Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, debates against Gov. Butch Otter's health insurance exchange bill in the Senate on Thursday (Betsy Russell)

Here’s some of the debate in the Senate so far on SB 1042, the governor’s state health insurance exchange bill:

Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, said if Idaho wants to resist the federal government, “I would maintain that this is not the bill.” He said, “What I see in this bill is a lot of promises, and a lot of things that I would like to believe. … I am not convinced in the body of this bill that any of those intents are able to be fulfilled.” He added, “As I read it, we don’t really have any oversight. We’ve made an independent board.”

Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, said the thinks the governor and state officials are “making the best of a bad situation, trying to keep down costs for Idaho citizens and to obtain local control of this.” But, he said, “I cannot go along with that. I didn’t reach this decision lightly or easily. I thought about this extensively. But I think when the federal government oversteps its bounds, I have a duty to resist that within the constitutional powers that I have. … I just can’t be a part of it.”

Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, asked a long series of questions of Tippets, the bill's floor sponsor, including whether the employees of the exchange would be state employees - the answer was no - and whether the exchange would promulgate administrative rules that would be reviewed by the Legislature. The answer to that also was no, as the exchange would not be a state agency. He also asked if the $20 million federal startup grant for the exchange would have to be repaid to the feds by the state, under any circumstances; Tippets said no. Mortimer asked what would happen to excess fees collected by the exchange. If that were to happen, Tippets said, "We would expect them then to adjust the rates. I don't know of any other use that those could be put to."




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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