Failing understand what Idahoans want, Idaho’s political leaders were shocked by the SCOTUS ruling that upheld the federal health care reform law and now they’re scurrying to see how to respond.
Placing bets that SCOTUS would overturn the law, state lawmakers refused to set up a state insurance exchange. Despite numerous appeals by Idaho citizens, Idaho legislators walked away from $20 million in federal grants.
John Rusche, D-Lewiston and a retired physician and health insurance executive said the ruling “…means we have a lot of work to do.”
Idaho’s State Insurance Director Bill Deal is still reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision and seeing how best to respond.
Apparently Deal was caught sleeping when the law’s individual mandate was upheld. “So now we know, and we can move forward, with hopefully some good direction in mind,” he told Washington Spokesman. As for a health insurance exchange in Idaho, Deal said, “It leaves us basically at square one.”
Since Idaho hasn’t moved yet to set up a state-run exchange, the federal government will now seek to impose a federally run exchange on the state.
While Idaho currently limits Medicaid to low-income populatio0ns, the federal law expands it to everyone under 65 who makes less than 133 percent of the poverty level. This also caught Idaho’s legislators napping instead of being vigilant in guarding their constituent’s interests.
North Idaho Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, who has been among the most vocal opponents of the health care reform law, told The Spokesman, “I know if the states do not comply, that they at least can’t strip the regular Medicaid help that the federal government is doing. But what does that mean for our constituents, and what is the added burden to the taxpayers in Idaho? How will the law affect their burden?”
Again, because of myopic legislators, Idaho doesn’t have those answers and the state’s all-Republican congressional delegation unanimously cried foul after the ruling, and called for repealing the law.
“It is not the ruling that the American people wanted.” said Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo ignoring the many protests, rallies and contact made by Idahoans who support the health care reform.
While the Idaho legislature was asleep, Gov. Butch Otter was out enjoying several days on a horseback trail and wasn’t available to comment. ; almost seven hours after the ruling, his office issued a statement saying, “Obamacare has been bad for America from the beginning,” Otter said in the statement. “This is a sad day for self-determination and for individual liberty.”
Adrienne Evans, Executive Director for United Vision for Idaho said, Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is a victory for the American people. As we move forward, we must hold states accountable to its citizenry by expanding Medicaid coverage for low-income families, seniors, and children.The ruling doesn’t change that the Medicaid expansion is a good deal for states because the federal government will pay over 90% of the cost of this expansion. This expansion brings much needed money and jobs to states who are struggling with budgets and with covering the uninsured. Medicaid is a cost-effective way to cover the uninsured and we should move forward everywhere without politically-motivated resistance from opponents of the President, or partisan tactics. This is good for the American people, good for America, and good for Idaho”
Jerry Nelson is a nationally recognized photojournalist who specializes in stories dealing with social justice issues.