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Wednesday, October 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Armstrong on insurance exchange: ‘In Idaho, we figured it out’

Idaho’s state health insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, has made the transition to full state operation of its marketplace, state Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong told JFAC this morning, and is operating at less than half the cost of most states. “Other states have struggled and even failed due to the complex functionality of their eligibility systems,” he said. “In Idaho, we figured it out.”

The Department of Health & Welfare “leveraged” its existing eligibility system to include determination for tax credits for the exchange, in a shared services model. “This decision not only allowed Idaho to implement an exchange quickly, but also ensured that we built Idaho’s investment on proven technology to minimize risk and maximize functionality,” Armstrong said. The exchange was approved for $70 million in federal funds in October to build the system; Armstrong said the department’s costs for eligibility shared services over the next two years are expected to be around $14 million. He’s requesting receipt authority for H&W to receive that money from Your Health Idaho to cover those costs, “to ensure we meet the legislative intent that no state funds will be used to implement Idaho’s exchange.” Armstrong said, “That was the legislature’s direction, and it has been strictly adhered to.”

He added, “By sharing eligibility services, Idaho was able to do what no other state accomplished in 2014 – we successfully converted from the federal marketplace to our own state exchange.”

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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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