Gov. Otter Appoints 'Obamacare' Working Groups to Study Potential Effects

One of the panels will hold its first meeting on Monday, Aug. 6.


Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is tapping 26 individuals in two separate working groups to study the potential effects the Affordable Care Act will have on the Gem State, according to a release from his office.

A provision of the Obama administration's health care reform act, upheld by the U.S. Supreme in June, requires states to set up a health insurance exchange program of their own or the federal government will step in and do it for them. The law also requires states to expand the Medicaid program, but the Supreme Court ruled that states could opt out without being penalized.

While Otter wrote on July 11 that he had yet to make up his mind on what to do in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling, these two working groups mark the first steps toward Idaho's compliance with what opponents commonly refer to as "Obamacare."

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong will helm a 14-member panel tasked with evaluating only the expansion of Idaho's Medicaid program. The names include:

-Sen. Patti Anne Lodge of Huston
-Sen. Dan Schmidt of Moscow
-Rep. Fred Wood of Burley
-Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke
-Dan Chadwick, Idaho Association of Counties
-Gooding County Commissioner Tom Faulkner
-Dr. Ted Epperly, Family Medical Residency of Idaho
-Dr. Bill Woodhouse, Family Medical Residency Program, Idaho State University
-Steve Millard, Idaho Hospital Association
-Susie Pouliot, Idaho Medical Association
-The Rev. Bill Roscoe, Boise Rescue Mission
-Elizabeth Ambrose Gray, nurse practitioner
-Denise Chuckovich, Idaho Primary Care Association
-Stephen Weeg, Health West Inc.

That panel's first meeting will be held at the Department of Health and Welfare headquarters in Boise, Monday, Aug. 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The second panel includes 12 members and is tasked with evaluating the effects of a state or federally run health insurance exchange. Idaho Department of Insurance Director Bill Deal will lead that group, which includes:

-Sen. John Goedde of Coeur d’Alene
-Rep. John Rusche of Lewiston
-Rep. Lynn Luker of Boise
-Zelda Geyer-Sylvia, Blue Cross of Idaho
-Scott Kreiling, Regence Blue Shield
-Dave Self, Pacific Source Health Plans
-Tom Shores, independent health insurance broker
-Kevin Settles, business owner
-Dr. John Livingston, Boise physician
-Alex LaBeau, Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry
-Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation
-John Watts, Idaho Chamber Alliance

No meeting schedule has been established for that working group.

Otter's office said more specifics would be hammered out by the end of July, with findings expected by the fall.