Funding, Flexibility Among Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s Concerns For Idaho Health Exchange

Jan 9, 2017

Monday afternoon, Governor Butch Otter delivers his "State of the State" address, as the 2017 legislature kicks off. Education is expected to be one of his primary topics. Although the so-called health care gap was a hot topic last year, it's not expected to be as big a focus this time around.

The health care gap describes 78,000 Idahoans without health insurance. These are people who don't make enough wages to access health care subsidies through the state exchange, but whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid. State lawmakers ended the 2016 session without clear action.

In a press conference last Friday, Governor Butch Otter signaled a wait-and-see approach.

"The Trump administration is going to do something relative to Medicaid expansion, relative to Obamacare ... and so, you know, if we get too far out ahead, we may be in a territory that's not prepared to do what the Trump administration is going to do,” Otter said.

For the Idaho health exchange, he says, one of the key struggles has been cost. 

"But it all comes down to funding,” said Otter. “How are you going to fund it on a continuing basis? Because once that benefit becomes a reality, then you're going to have to maintain that benefit."

In addition to funding, Otter said the other concern was flexibility. He complained that people had to pay for insurance that they didn't need or didn't want. There's a legislative group working on an interim solution, but no recommendations have been made to date.

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