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What the ruling means for Washington and Idaho

UPDATED: Thu., June 28, 2012, 7:52 a.m.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, here is an initial look at where Washington and Idaho stand on health care and how the ruling might affect the states.

Washington State’s race to adopt health care reforms, including setting up a new health exchange designed to help 477,000 people afford insurance, is paying off, said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.

The exchange takes effect in 2014 and Kreidler said the state intends to participate in the Medicaid expansion that will absorb another 328,000 poor adults without children.

“I’m very pleased the Supreme Court chose to uphold the Affordable Care Act,” he said in prepared remarks this morning.

He noted that 2.4 million people will no longer face lifetime caps on their insurance coverage and that 52,000 young people may stay on their parents’ plans.


Number of uninsured: 927,000 state residents are uninsured, or about 13.8 percent

Where the state stands: Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna signed on to the health care lawsuit against the wishes of Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire and majority Democrats, but Washington moved ahead this past legislative session with implementing its own health insurance exchange.

What happens now: Now that the act has been upheld, the state’s exchange will be put in place in 2014.

• Some Democratic lawmakers and others have already planned a summit in late July to develop a legislative response to the court’s decision and plan for the next legislative session that begins in January.

• Washington received $128 million to help set up its exchange, and an additional $200 million for its pre-existing condition insurance pool.


Number of uninsured: 294,000 state residents are uninsured, or about 19 percent.

Where the state stands: Idaho has not implemented health insurance exchanges, over objections from insurers including Blue Cross of Idaho. The GOP-controlled Idaho Legislature declined to accept federal grants for the project and also balked at putting together a scaled-down state-funded version while awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision.

What happens now: Idaho lawmakers were the first in the nation to pass a law in 2010 requiring the state to sue the federal government over the health care overhaul. In 2011, they toyed with the idea of nullifying the law within state borders.

• They were banking on the U.S. Supreme Court turning down the measure, or barring that, an eventual push by a Republican president and GOP members of Congress to repeal provisions, including the individual mandate or refuse to fund the enterprise. Many GOP lawmakers in Idaho have said they would work hard to block key provisions of the health care changes if the Supreme Court upholds the law.

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