Otter on Obamacare, Medicaid expansion, and Idaho’s gap population…


“Folks, we all aspire to be more self-reliant,” Gov. Butch Otter told lawmakers today. “We strive for it in our personal lives as well as in the operation of our state government. Few federal edicts in recent years have been more intrusive or more damaging to our self-determination than the Affordable Care Act.”

“There is broad agreement in this body on the need to help tens of thousands of Idahoans with incomes too high to qualify for Obamacare subsidies but too low to afford health care coverage on their own,” he declared. “Just as clearly, there is very little support for expanding Medicaid. I understand that. It would mean subordinating our Idaho priorities to the siren song of federal dollars and neither the national government nor taxpayers can afford it.”

So what should lawmakers do? “Beyond continuing to seek elusive answers to the policy questions that we’ve been asking for years, we now have the option of waiting to see what the Trump administration and Congress do with Obamacare,” the governor said. “But waiting by itself is seldom a solution. Instead, while we wait I would encourage you to seek ways to make Idaho less dependent on the feds. That includes continuing to build local partnerships and encouraging marketplace innovations that address our Idaho goals of improving health-care accessibility and affordability.”

He said he doesn’t think waiting is “entirely an exercise in kicking an oversized can down the road.” Change is coming in Washington, D.C., he said. “While few people know just what to expect from the President-elect or his cabinet, I am far more hopeful than anxious about the promise of a new and better day in the relationships between the federal government and the states,” Otter said, pausing as he was interrupted by applause. “Dealing with Obamacare should be only the start. This is uncharted territory.”

Via Eye on Boise