Idaho Sen. Rice counters Sen. Fulcher on health law: We'll lose our noses, still have exchange

Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, responded Thursday to Sen. Russ Fulcher's argument that Idaho should resist establishing a state-based health insurance exchange because the Affordable Care Act is more likely to fail if states let the feds run the online marketplace.

"Sen. Fulcher is trying to create a circular firing squad," Rice told me Thursday. "It's a cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face strategy."

Rice said he had prepared a written response to Fulcher, R-Meridian, who wrote an essay opposing a state exchange for the National Federation of Independent Business. (NOTE: I first saw the Fulcher essay on Idaho Chooses Life's site and my original post erroneously suggested that's where the piece first appeared.)

Shortly after our conversation, Rice submitted an op-ed, noting that the landscape has changed since the Supreme Court upheld the law against a challenge by Idaho and other states and President Obama's reelection.

"Now we are left with a different decision," writes Rice. "The question before us is will we have a State based exchange or a federal exchange? Rejection of an exchange in its entirety is not one of our options."

Rice says a state-run exchange would give Idaho more discretion in managing health plans and save money for Idahoans. "Voting no on a state exchange will not exempt any individual or business from the penalties and taxes that are part of Obamacare."

Rice and Fulcher have an unusual connection: Both owe their positions in some measure to the resignation of former Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, last year. Rice was appointed to fill McGee's seat by the leading advocate of an Idaho-run exchange, GOP Gov. Butch Otter; Fulcher was elected by Senate Republican to replace McGee as majority caucus chairman. (Fulcher had been caucus chairman before, but gave up the post in early 2011 to seek the top Senate job, which was won by Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg.)

Rice's op-ed follows:

The question of health insurance exchanges is a hot topic at the Capitol. As legislators we wade through a sea of information. Some of it is factual. Some of it is false. And some of it is speculation. Yet we are here to make decisions that will affect the personal and family budgets of every Idahoan. Some seek to make our decision a question of ideology, painting support for a state based exchange as socialism and support for defaulting to a federal exchange as liberty and support of free markets.

As a State we sued the federal government to stop Obamacare. We won a little and lost the most important part of the litigation. As Americans we had an opportunity to reject Obamacare, including the exchange, but the president was reelected. Now we are left with a different decision. The question before us is will we have a State based exchange or a federal exchange? Rejection of an exchange in its entirety is not one of our options.

So what are the real facts? A federal exchange is more costly to each Idahoan than the state based exchange proposed by the Governor. We have those facts. It is also factual that we will have more discretion with a state based exchange than we would if we have a federal exchange. Voting against a state based exchange is a vote for even more money to come out of the pockets of every Idahoan. Voting no on a state exchange will not exempt any individual or business from the penalties and taxes that are part of Obamacare.

There are those who will tell you that if we join with other states who have declared their intention not to create an exchange we won’t have an exchange at all and we will be able to do something else. This is simply not true.

Insisting on a federal exchange amounts to cutting off our noses out of spite. At the end of the day we would have an exchange and the only difference would be that we would not have noses. Our best option is to support our Governor and adopt the exchange he has proposed. We can still continue our opposition to Obamacare, but we don’t have to maximize the cost to every Idahoan while we do so.

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speaking of Idaho Chooses Life

why is this even an issue for them? Do they believe that people will be more likely to live if they don't have medical insurance?

Finally! A Republican who is not afraid to stand up to

the Tea Party/Freedom Foundation faction.

Agree; whole heartedly

Agree; whole heartedly agree; finally an R that has some common sense.

Because the name should be Idaho Supports Intrusive Government

"why is this even an issue for them? Do they believe that people will be more likely to live if they don't have medical insurance?"

No, because they support intrusive government controls on abortion decisions, not life itself.

At least somebody lets THEM live.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

I need affordable health insurance.

I kept getting screwed by health insurance companies before the Obama plan started. Since then, the insurance has been paying up. I don't understand why my Idaho politicians want to make the Obama plans fail. The politicians don't have my interest in mind. They don't support the president. I suspect they support the insurance companies.

There is nothing affordable about it

A couple of things really...one Obama's ACA has nothing to do with affordable heathcare...it has everything to do with using the guy next doors tax money to pay for a portion of your premium. Most of the provisions to improve healthcare are miniscule as opposed to the bureaucracy established to get you your subsidy. the entire plan is a charade to move toward a single payer system down the road. Your disdain for insurance companies is funny...they're are about the only "cost control" process in the system.

$20,000 A Year

Is not an affordable minimum heath insurance plan cost for a family of four. Obamacare has failed on every promise before it has even begun. http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-cheapest-obamacare-plan-will-be-20000-family

Who has two kids anymore?

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

The Idaho Legislature can get it right

thank you for sharing Senator Rice's "conservative" voice. We appreciate it. The reality is ACA is now owned by this Administration and the Democrats in Congress...as it moves forward it will be "their" debacle...let them keep wading toward the deep end of the pool. Idaho can and must build their own exchange, attempt to be sensitive to unique Idaho health insurance realities.

Perhaps Sen. Rice should read the Idaho Health Freedom Act

Any state employee, agency, or instrument of the state of Idaho cannot collect a fee or penalty from anyone who chooses not to purchase health insurance. That's current state law, folks.

Sen. Fulcher is right on. This is the federal government's doing. Those who think Idaho will have any control over its planned, self imposed insurance exchange had better read the section of Obamacare which discusses this.

By the way, under current Idaho law an insurance provider operating within a health insurance exchange in Idaho cannot offer abortion advice either.

The state law on this does not matter

IRS enforcement officers are federal employees.

There are a lot of Cro-Magnum and Neanderthals w/ no noses now.

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People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.