Idaho Governor Butch Otter Meets With HHS Secretary Azar Over Controversial Insurance Plans

Feb 27, 2018

Blue Cross of Idaho is the first insurance provider in the state to offer products out of compliance with the Affordable Care Act in response to Governor Butch Otter's January executive order.
Credit U.S. Pacific Fleet / Flickr

Governor Butch Otter met with federal health officials over the weekend regarding the future of Idaho’s controversial insurance plans.

Idaho Department of Insurance Director Dean Cameron sat in on the meeting with Otter and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Nothing definite emerged from the meeting, but Cameron says he believes Azar is sympathetic to the insurance issues the Gem State faces.

The Statesman reports Cameron and Otter told Azar they’re trying to get younger and healthier patients into the marketplace.

In January, the governor issued an executive order encouraging insurance providers to offer plans that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act. Only Blue Cross of Idaho has drawn up such plans. Christened “Freedom Blue Plans,” the insurer would be allowed to set rates based on a customer’s medical history and cap yearly coverage at a million dollars.

Both Idaho and Blue Cross maintain the proposed plans are within the bounds of the law. But some lawyers and health care policy experts say the plans are legally dubious.

Azar told Otter and Cameron his agency won’t take action until state regulators sign off on the plans, which could happen in March.

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