Conceding that it was "not a battle of my choosing," Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced late Tuesday that he is opting to create a state-based health insurance exchange under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, subject to approval of the 2013 Idaho Legislature.
"There will be a health insurance exchange in Idaho," said Otter. "The only question is, who will build it."
Otter faced pressure to opt for a state-based exchange from a coalition of Idaho businesses, individuals, health care providers, financial advisers and the highly influential Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. Groups such as Tea Party of Boise and the Idaho Freedom Foundation urged Otter to reject such an exchange.
"Our options have come down to this: Do nothing and be at the federal government’s mercy in how that exchange is designed and run, or take a seat at the table and play the cards we’ve been dealt," wrote Otter in his decision. "I cannot willingly surrender a role for Idaho in determining the impact on our own citizens and businesses."
Otter threw a verbal bone to some of those who urged rejection by saying he "took comfort in the fact that even those disagreeing with this decision strongly believe as I do in Idaho's ability to be more responsive and do a better a job than the federal government alone of ensuring our citizens can make informed choices about their health care."
Otter's decision will no doubt be a part of his State of the State address, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 7, which will kick off the new legislative term.