Idaho Governor Appoints Exchange Foe to Health Care Panel

Published September 26, 2012

Few states did more to resist President Obama’s health care law than Idaho. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled on the law’s constitutionality, state leaders are deciding what to do next. A tireless advocate against Obama’s law is in a key position to help shape the state’s future actions.

In mid-July, Republican Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter appointed a twelve-member panel to study whether the state should implement a health insurance exchange as mandated by Obama’s law. The chairman of that panel is Idaho Department of Insurance Director Bill Deal, and it includes three legislators, three representatives from insurance companies, two representatives of Idaho industry, an insurance broker, a small business owner, and a physician.

It also includes Idaho’s most vocal opponent of a state-created health insurance exchange: the president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, Wayne Hoffman.

‘Resident Naysayer’

Hoffman sees his role as vital on a panel that is made up primarily of legislators and people from industry.

“It looks like I will be the panel’s resident naysayer,” he says. “Most of the people on the panel have already indicated that they support a state exchange. There are a lot of compelling reasons why the state should not move ahead, and it is my goal to see that those reasons are fully reviewed and discussed.”

Hoffman and the Idaho Freedom Foundation have spent significant time in the past two years pointing out these “compelling reasons.”

Hoffman Added After Criticism

In a July letter to Gov. Otter, sent before his appointment to the panel, Hoffman urged the governor not to create a health insurance exchange.

“The state’s continued opposition to a health insurance exchange is the only way to protect Idaho businesses from thousands of dollars in penalties for not supplying health insurance to their employees,” counseled Hoffman.

Hoffman and IFF have sounded similar themes in testimony, op-eds, briefings, and media appearances throughout the state.

Otter signed an executive order in 2011 banning the implementation of Obama’s law in Idaho, but he has been unclear on what steps the state should take now that the Supreme Court has declared the law consitutional. With Hoffman on the health insurance exchange panel, Idahoans can be sure there will be a strong voice at the highest levels continuing to call for resistance to this unpopular federal law.