Gov. Butch Otter should issue an executive order to create a state-run health insurance exchange, or reconvene legislators to create the exchange, House Minority Leader John Rusche said today.
“The citizens of Idaho are asking for help and Democratic legislators are calling on the governor and Republican legislators to take action,” Rusche, a retired physician, said in a news release. “The cost of health care and health insurance is crippling family budgets and business recovery. The constitutional Affordable Care Act offers tools to make progress. Our Republican colleagues cannot continue to hide behind political campaign slogans when action is needed.”
The GOP-controlled Legislature did not act to create a state-run exchange this session — even though the idea had backing form the business community. Otter had voiced support for the proposal before the session, but backed away amidst criticism from Republican legislators. Now, Idaho has until January to create a framework for its own exchange, an online marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for insurance. If the state does not create an exchange, the federal government can establish an exchange, under the health care law upheld in U.S. Supreme Court last week.
Otter Chief of Staff David Hensley last week ruled out a special session on health care issues, according to Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Rusche also took Republican leadership to task Friday on my blog, responding to a draft of our Sunday editorial on the health care ruling, and Republicans' politicking on the issue. Wrote Rusche: "Not only are (Republicans) in denial about the (health care law), but about the difficulties and problems in health care financing and delivery. And that the industry is rapidly trying to move into the future, and only asking for a small bit of cooperation."
Here's the Democrats' news release, emailed out by Rusche this morning:
The governor and Republican House and Senate members must set aside political rhetoric and work with Democratic legislators to meet the federal deadline for creating an Idaho Health Insurance Exchange. That will mean either an executive order or a special legislative session. Failure to act will cost Idaho millions of dollars.
“The citizens of Idaho are asking for help and Democratic legislators are calling on the governor and Republican legislators to take action,” said Dr. John Rusche, minority House leader. “The cost of health care and health insurance is crippling family budgets and business recovery. The constitutional Affordable Care Act offers tools to make progress. Our Republican colleagues cannot continue to hide behind political campaign slogans when action is needed.”
“Last session the majority refused to consider developing the health insurance exchange and even removed appropriations for standard Department of Insurance activities related to the ACA. Health and Welfare was beleaguered when trying to comply with Medicaid readiness standards. The citizens and businesses of the state deserve better.” Rusche added.
Idaho Democrats call for a rapid return to planning for a state exchange. We also hope for an honest and fiscally responsible discussion about health care for the uninsured in this state.
Leadership is needed to address the health care issues. We commit to provide our expertise and effort as well, and call on the governor and Republican legislators to step up.