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Eye On Boise

House debates ‘Health Freedom’ bill

Rep. Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, spoke against HB 391. "This bill fails to look at unintended and possibly long-term consequences," she said, and would require the state to spend thousands to go to court to fight health care reform requirements. "How can we justify that, when we're cutting parks, schools and other services for our citizens?" she asked.

House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, told the House, "This bill is premature - there is no national health reform bill, and based on the last several weeks I don't know that there is going to be one. If enacted, it is fraught with the opportunity for extensive litigation, and will take monies from the general fund." Rusche, a physician, said many places in Idaho law require purchase of health insurance, including child support and foster care laws. He cited growing health care costs, and said they're the biggest barrier to free access to health care. "I don't believe this bill addresses that at all," he said.

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, said the bill's estimate of $100,000 for litigation is a maximum cost, and the state likely would spend less. "I don't think it would have the impact that people are claiming," he said. "It would be a terrible mistake for the state of Idaho to wait until a bill is passed for us to do something about this in the state." He added, "There's nothing in this legislation that says that the majority of the individuals in this body are against health care reform. ... What we don't want is federal reform, we don't want federal concepts intruding on the rights and liberties of individuals here in Idaho."

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.