Lawmakers embrace health exchange split, applaud Gov. Otter's commitment to funding mental health facility at Idaho prison
Eric Fink asks lawmakers how they feel about Gov. Otter's proposed state-based health insurance exchange Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
After Governor Butch Otter's State of the State address Monday, Idaho lawmakers say they are excited to get to work and begin Idaho's 62nd legislative session.
In December of last year, Gov. Otter proposed a state-based health insurance exchange under "Obamacare." Some lawmakers who do not view the health care mandate as an appropriate federal role of government, don't want to set up an exchange. Others back Gov. Otter's proposal.
"I've always supported the governor on this," Senate President Pro Tempore, Brent Hill of Rexburg said. "We need to preserve our state sovereignty and we're going to do that best by keeping control of the exchange itself."
House Minority Leader, John Rusche, of Lewiston also supports a state exchange. The democrat has argued for a state-based health insurance marketplace for more than a year.
"On a cost basis," Rusche said, "when you analyze the cost of premiums sold through the exchange, if it's mixed and pooled on a national basis Idaho loses."
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called Gov. Otter's desire to help the Idaho Department of Correction build a $70 million, almost 600-bed facility in Ada County to house mentally ill prisoners, critically important.
"I was a little disappointed about not having a line in there [Gov. Otter's State of the State address] about being more proactive with health and welfare in helping mentally ill because we have a lot of veterans coming back with mental illness," minority leader Sen. Michelle Stennett of Ketchum said. "But, I was very pleased to hear him boosting the correction system to be able to take care of them."