Boise, ID. – Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter directed the Idaho Department of Insurance today to use flexibility provided by the Trump administration to develop guidelines under which Idaho health-insurance carriers can offer coverage plans at significantly lower costs.
At the annual Associated Press Legislative Preview in the Capitol today, Governor Otter signed Executive Order 2018-02 instructing Insurance Director Dean Cameron to seek creative ways outside the restrictions of the Affordable Care Act to make health coverage more affordable for Idaho residents.
“Congress and President Trump have eliminated the individual mandate requiring all Americans to buy Obamacare plans or face financial penalties. That means we will no longer be penalized for buying coverage that doesn’t meet all the Obamacare rules,” the Governor said. “We have been waiting patiently while Congress has been unable to find a solution and Idaho families have been forced to buy products that are too expensive and loaded with benefits they don’t want or need. Now the door is open for states to pursue our own reasonable solutions. We believe Idaho will lead the way in states taking back control of their insurance markets.”
Cameron said he hopes insurance plans from Idaho carriers can be available as early as March to reduce costs for essential health-care coverage by 30 to 50 percent. Such plans would not qualify for an Obamacare subsidy on premium payments but carriers involved must agree to continue offering plans through the Your Health Idaho insurance exchange, where federal subsidies will continue to be available.
Idaho sought greater flexibility from Health and Human Services “to continue innovating and creating new products under our State law” in a March 10, 2017 letter from Governor Otter to then-Secretary Tom Price.
President Trump also issued an executive order on January 20, 2017 – the day of his inauguration – aimed at minimizing the economic burden of the Affordable Care Act “Pending Repeal.” It stated that the federal government should “take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the Act, and prepare to afford the States more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market.”
Cameron said those steps, and elimination of the individual mandate, should enable the State to take actions to keep Idahoans from having to pay too much for insurance, resort to unconventional alternative treatments or simply go without coverage. “We believe we have the authority already,” he said. “We want to act quickly.”