State Politics

Lawmaker’s pitch — insurance plans that skirt Obamacare — mirrors governor’s effort

Rep. Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls.
Rep. Bryan Zollinger, R-Idaho Falls.

An eastern Idaho lawmaker has introduced legislation allowing health insurance carriers to offer non-Obamacare approved plans, while also imposing new requirements for Medicaid recipients.

The House Health and Welfare Committee on Monday agreed to give Republican Rep. Bryan Zollinger’s bill a hearing — which has not yet been scheduled.

The bill directs the Idaho Department of Insurance to encourage and permit insurance carriers to offer plans that don’t meet the requirements under the Affordable Care Act. That resembles an ongoing effort by the state to allow such plans, stemming from a January executive order by Gov. Butch Otter. Blue Cross of Idaho has filed proposals for five plans that omit some ACA requirements. The controversial order has attracted attention in Congress and broad national criticism elsewhere.

Zollinger’s bill also says adult Medicaid recipients should hold jobs, and limits lifetime participation in the federal program to just five years for certain recipients. Children, pregnant women and people with disabilities would still be exempt from coverage limits.

Supporters of Zollinger’s bill describe it as an alternative to a separate bill already introduced in the Statehouse designed to reduce Idaho’s health coverage gap. That earlier bill was also modified to include a work requirement for “able-bodied” adults who receive Medicaid benefits and aren’t already required to work — a tiny amount of the Idahoans currently on Medicaid.