Printed on: April 22, 2014

Going our own way

Many of us have fought against the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) since its inception. Idaho was one of the first states to file a lawsuit challenging the act's constitutionality, but when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against us, it forced a health insurance exchange on each state. In 2013 every state was faced with the decision to develop its own state-run health insurance exchange or abdicate that right to the federal government.

Here we are a year later and every state in the union now has a health insurance exchange. Those states that tried to "nullify" or ignore Obamacare, now find themselves with an exchange controlled and operated by Washington bureaucrats. Idaho wisely established a state-run health insurance exchange, greatly benefitting the citizens of Idaho and limiting the control of the federal government.

While states with federal exchanges have experienced disastrous technical problems, Idaho's exchange has operated relatively smoothly and will soon be completely independent of the federal online program.

While the residents of other states have been strapped by a 3.5 percent premium tax to fund the federal exchange, Idaho has kept fees at only 1.5 percent. Idaho's health insurance rates continue to be among the lowest in the country.

While the federal exchange requires de-

tailed personal information in order to ac-

cess its exchange, Idaho allows persons to

browse plans and check rates anonymously.

The Idaho Legislature has created statutes to prohibit insurance policies offered through the state-run exchange from offering abortion coverage.

Another significant difference between Idaho's state-run exchange and the feder-

al exchange forced on other states deals with our "consumer connectors." In Idaho, these connectors are licensed agents and

in-person assisters that help citizens apply

for qualified health plans using the ex-

change. Unlike the federal exchange, Idaho's connectors have all had background checks and received training to help people compare rates, evaluate benefits and understand premium assistance. While states with federal exchanges have had to deal with connectors from Planned Parenthood, organizations created by former ACORN executives and other institutions that do not reflect Idaho's values, our exchange provides jobs to Idaho citizens.

The choice last year was never between a state-run exchange and no exchange at all. That option had been denied by the courts. It was a choice between state involvement and total federal control. Those states that ignored the law relinquished control to the federal government. Idaho refused to surrender its decision-making authority over health care issues. The creation of our own state-based health insurance exchange was one more step to resist the federal government's usurpation of individual and states' rights. That's why business organizations across the state, including our Chamber of Commerce, support a state-run exchange.

Idaho did the right thing!

Hill, a Republican from Rexburg, serves as president pro tempore of the Idaho Senate.