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Big Win For Otter as Senate Panel Clears Plan for Insurance Exchange

Boise Democratic Sen. Branden Durst was the lone "no" vote, saying that setting up an insurance exchange with a largely independent board left the Idaho Legislature with little to no oversight.

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Even stalwart opponents of Obamacare opted to move forward Thursday afternoon with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's proposal to create a state-run health insurance markeplace.

The Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee voted 8-1 in favor of the proposal, moving the measure to the full Senate. The proposal still needs to be considered by the Idaho House.

Boise Democratic Sen. Branden Durst was the lone "no" vote, saying that setting up an insurance exchange with a largely independent board left the Idaho Legislature with little to no oversight.

Thursday's committee approval followed two days of passionate public testimony on the issue. Ultimately, eight members of the Senate panel, leaning in both directions in their support or lack thereof for the Affordable Care Act, voted in favor of the exchange.

"This is an opportunity," said Moscow Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt, a physician. "We have problems with health care in this country but we have problems with heath care in this state."

Rupert Republican Sen. Dean Cameron said he wished he "had another choice."

"The only choice I see is for us to follow what I think was the lead of Gov. Otter," said Cameron. "He should be commended, not criticized. He's trying to protect our rights. He's trying to protect our sovereignty."

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