New legislation combining Gov. Butch Otter’s state health insurance exchange bill with measure proposed by 16 House GOP freshmen calling for more legislative oversight, and also adding some additional changes, was introduced on a near-unanimous vote this morning in the House Health & Welfare Committee, with just Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, voting no. The Associated Press reports that the new bill will be up for a public hearing on Thursday, beginning at 7 a.m. in the Capitol Auditorium.
Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, said, “Everything from my HB 179 is in there, so I’m very happy. I think what’s important was to have the legislative voice there.” Malek and the other freshmen had called for two non-voting legislators to be added to the health exchange’s 16-member board; the new bill adds three legislators, including one selected by minority leaders, and they’ll all have votes. “I think that’s a good thing,” Malek said. He said the freshmen’s bill made the lawmakers non-voting members “out of an abundance of caution.”
The new bill also adds requirements for reporting to the governor and Legislature; and requires the exchange to use Idaho companies and Idaho workers in its operations. Otter and Idaho Senate leaders have signed off on these changes, the AP reports; the Senate passed the governor’s bill Feb. 21 on a 23-12 vote.