Sen. John Tippets, R-Montpelier, thanked Senate Secretary Jennifer Novak for her reading of the full health insurance exchange bill, HB 248. The reading, demanded by Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, took 10 minutes.
“Senators, here we are again,” Tippets told the Senate. “The House took SB 1042 that passed this body, made some changes, passed the bill and sent it back to us.” He read again, echoing Novak, from the bill, which says:
“It is the public policy of the state ofIdaho to actively resist federal actions that would limit or override statesovereignty under the 10th amendment of the United States constitution.Through this legislation, the state of Idaho asserts its sovereignty byrefusing to surrender decision-making authority over health care issues,which are matters appropriately left to states and individual citizens.The purpose of this chapter is to establish a state-created, market-drivenhealth insurance exchange that will facilitate the selection and purchase ofindividual and employer health benefit plans. The creation of a state-basedhealth insurance exchange will provide an Idaho-specific solution that fits the unique needs of the state of Idaho. Participation in the exchange isvoluntary in that no person or employer shall be required by this chapter topurchase a health benefit plan through the exchange. Creation of the exchange and its operation is deemed a public purpose intended to enhance Idaho residents' choice regarding options and access to health insurance.”
Among the major changes from SB 1042 to HB 248: Three more voting members, all legislators, are added to the exchange board. The new bill incorporates proposals from a group of 16 House GOP freshmen who wanted more legislative oversight of the exchange.
Another change says that if any portion of the national health care reform law is overturned, the exchange will immediately cease following it. Said Tippets, “If that happens, we don’t even have to take any actions to get out of this mess - it’s already done right here.”