Idaho Governor blocks federal health care reform

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter issued an executive order yesterday that prohibits the state from receiving federal funding for any initiatives outlined under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Order uses portions of a bill approved by the legislature earlier this year that sought to nullify federal health care reform requirements in Idaho. The Order directs State agencies not to establish new programs, promulgate rules or accept federal funding for health care reform. It also bars State agencies from assisting federal agencies in implementing the law.

In the Order the Governor writes that he is frustrated with federal health care reform and will be exploring state defined alternatives. The Order does allow the Idaho departments of Insurance and Health and Welfare to continue developing a State health insurance exchange but also emphasizes that this exchange will be administered according to state-specific requirements.

State officials have applauded the move and supporters of the original legislative measure stand by the Governor’s plan to create state based options.

Senator Russ Fulcher of Meridian, one of the Senate cosponsors, said of Governor Otter’s action, “the intent of H298 was to lawfully discourage the implementation of Obamacare in Idaho. To me it doesn’t matter if that happens through legislation or executive order. I am just thankful to have the Governor’s support on the issue.”