The House Health and Welfare Committee's vote Thursday was 10-1 for a state-based, nonprofit insurance exchange, setting the stage for a long and spirited House debate. Two weeks ago, the Senate debated for about six hours before passing a similar measure.
What does it do?
Under President Obama's 2010 health care overhaul, exchanges will be required in all states starting Jan. 1.
Gov. Butch Otter backs this plan for a state-designed online marketplace in which individuals and small businesses will be able to buy insurance. He argued that it allows Idaho to be in control of the exchange, and will be less expensive than a federally run exchange.
Who carried the day?
The backers who say that defaulting to a federal version - as governments in about 25 GOP-led states have done - would leave Idaho without a seat at the negotiating table.
"Idaho is taking a stand and protecting its citizens rather than just handing everything over to the federal government," said Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa.
What did citizens say at the public hearing?
Karen Calisterio, of the libertarian-leaning Republican Liberty Caucus of Idaho, said state-exchange backers were taking "a seat at the table of tyranny."
"Gov. Butch 'Ottercare' Otter is ordering the people of Idaho to accept fascism over freedom," said Joseph Rohner III. "Those of you who vote for this bill will be, by your actions, forever branded as fascists."
Peggy Munson, AARP Idaho state volunteer president, said her group's telephone polls suggest Idaho residents, regardless of political persuasion, favor a state-based exchange.
Kerry Uhlenkott, a lobbyist for Right to Life of Idaho, said a state exchange might help the federal government force insurers to provide emergency contraceptives that, she said, can result in abortions of newly conceived fetuses.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Idaho backed the state exchange, saying Uhlenkott's concerns were best addressed with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. What's next?
Unless it suspends the rules, the full House can't take up the bill before Tuesday. If is passes the House, as expected, it must go back to the Senate, which passed a different plan.
The House version added several changes meant to boost legislative oversight. Otter and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, support the House version.
The Senate will have to send the House bill to committee before it can vote on it.