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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

What if guv and Legislature disagree on exchange?

One question that's come up several times today at the Legislature's Health Care Task Force: Could the governor implement a particular type of health insurance exchange by executive order, without legislative action? When lawmakers posed that question to Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane, he said, "I think the best way to explain it is that both the governor and the Legislature have authority, but they're both subject to checks by the respective other body." So, he said, if the governor declared by the Nov. 16 deadline that the state would take a particular course, some legislative action likely would be required to implement that, whether it's through funding or authorizing legislation. The Legislature, when it convenes, could endorse a different course. But legislative decisions are subject to the governor's veto, which could leave the state with no officially endorsed direction.

"I believe the default at this point would be a federal exchange," Kane told the lawmakers. "But that's a lot of contingencies. ... Hopefully, there would be some sort of consensus on which direction the state is moving."

Asked what would happen if the governor and Legislature disagreed on Medicaid expansion, Kane said, "That would be a very legally interesting situation." It's unclear what the outcome would be, he said. "That's a very involved powers-of-government question, from my perspective."

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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