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Eye On Boise

Thu., March 7, 2013, 12:38 p.m.

Alliance lauds committee’s exchange vote

The Idaho Health Exchange Alliance, a coalition of businesses, trade associations and individuals backing a state-based health insurance exchange, is lauding today's passage of the exchange legislation in the House Health & Welfare Committee; click below for the group's full statement. The alliance also reported today that its membership is up to 536; and that Gov. Butch Otter's petition in favor of a state-based exchange has now received more than 3,000 signatures.Heidi Low, executive director of the alliance, said, “Despite the strident attacks on a state-based exchange, we’re glad to see support growing statewide for a solution that puts Idahoans in charge of a lower-cost health insurance exchange.”

The committee today voted 10-1 in favor of the bill, after some three dozen people testified on both sides, with the majority opposing it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Health Insurance Alliance Supports New Legislation

Membership in Alliance increases as Legislature reviews new bill to create state exchange

(BOISE – March 7, 2013) The Idaho Health Exchange Alliance, a coalition of individuals and businesses advocating for a state-based health insurance exchange, today praised H0248, the new state based exchange legislation that passed through the House Health and Welfare hearing and vote with a 10-1 vote.

Under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, if Idaho decides not to pursue a state exchange, the federal government will create one, which would be operated by the federal government at the state’s expense.

Exchanges are essentially online marketplaces intended to make health insurance options more clear and thereby more competitive. They will provide a single stop web portal for comparing and selecting health insurance products.

Although the Idaho State Senate passed a previous state exchange bill 23-12, the new legislation, started now in the Idaho House of Representatives, combines that bill with new language increasing oversight from the Idaho Legislature.

The new bill, which the Alliance supports, is in part a creation of the so-called “Gang of 16,” a courageous group of first-year Idaho lawmakers who joined to draft the new oversight language, thereby garnering more support for a state-based exchange.

On the heels of this development, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced this week that more than 3,000 people had signed his office’s petition in favor of a state-based exchange.

“Despite the strident attacks on a state-based exchange, we’re glad to see support growing statewide for a solution that puts Idahoans in charge of a lower-cost health insurance exchange,” said Heidi Low, executive director of the Health Exchange Alliance. “We support this new legislation in the Idaho Legislature.”

The Alliance was formed because members see the many advantages to a state-based health insurance exchange, including local control, cost containment and economic benefits to Idaho consumers and businesses.

After its start last fall, the Idaho Health Exchange Alliance has grown to include 536 members this week. The group’s membership includes businesses large and small, including the Silverwood Theme Park in Athol, and the Hartwell Corporation and Majestic Autobody in Idaho Falls.

The Alliance is also proud to have the support of associations and trade groups like the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, Idaho Forest Group, Idaho Grain Producers Association, and Idaho Mining Association.

In addition to these companies and associations, the Alliance has welcomed hundreds of individuals to the coalition from more than 45 communities – urban and rural – all across Idaho. These are people who agree that if Idaho’s health insurance markets are going to change, then Idahoans ought to be in charge of the changing, not the federal government.

A working group formed by Governor Otter to research the issue voted 10-2 in October to support a state-based exchange, after studying the issue extensively.

For more information about the Idaho Health Exchange Alliance, visit www.keepitinidaho.com

 

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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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