The question of health insurance exchanges is a hot topic at the Capitol. As legislators we wade through a sea of information. Some of it is factual. Some of it is false. And some of it is speculation. Yet we are here to make decisions that will affect the personal and family budgets of every Idahoan.
Some seek to make our decision a question of ideology, painting support for a state-based exchange as socialism and support for defaulting to a federal exchange as liberty and support of free markets.
As a state we sued the federal government to stop Obamacare. We won a little and lost the most important part of the litigation. As Americans we had an opportunity to reject Obamacare, including the exchange, but the president was re-elected.
Now we are left with a different decision. The question before us is will we have a state-based exchange or a federal exchange? Rejection of an exchange in its entirety is not one of our options.
So what are the real facts? A federal exchange is more costly to each Idahoan than the state-based exchange proposed by the governor. We have those facts. It is also factual that we will have more discretion with a state-based exchange than we would if we have a federal exchange. Voting against a state-based exchange is a vote for even more money to come out of the pockets of every Idahoan. Voting no on a state exchange will not exempt any individual or business from the penalties and taxes that are part of Obamacare.
There are those who will tell you that if we join with other states that have declared their intention not to create an exchange we wont have an exchange at all, and we will be able to do something else. This is simply not true.
Insisting on a federal exchange amounts to cutting off our noses out of spite. At the end of the day we would have an exchange and the only difference would be that we would not have noses. Our best option is to support our governor and adopt the exchange he has proposed. We can still continue our opposition to Obamacare, but we dont have to maximize the cost to every Idahoan while we do so.
Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, is an Idaho state senator for District 10.