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Governor Otter Wants To Drop Some ACA Requirements From Idaho Health Plans

AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter speaks to reporters about the upcoming 2018 legislative session at the State Capitol building Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 in Boise, Idaho. The new session begins Monday, Jan. 8.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter (R) signed an Executive Order Friday that would allow insurance companies to create new health care plans that shave off some of the requirements of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Otter and Lt. Gov. Brad Little (R), who helped draw up the initiative, say that will mean cheaper plans for Idahoans.

Calling Obamacare the “Unaffordable Health Care Act,” Otter said it puts requirements, like maternity or contraception coverage, into health care plans that raise prices. 

Otter is directing the Insurance Department to write new guidelines that drop some of those requirements, saying that will lower costs for some plans by 30 to 50 percent. He says the ACA caused Idaho’s insurance rates to jump by 28 percent in 2016. 

Dean Cameron heads the Insurance Department and says his team is still considering which requirements will be dropped. But he says changes have to be made now to lower prices.

“I have met with families who cannot afford the skyrocketing cost of health insurance. They cannot afford to have coverage and they’re having to choose to go without coverage,” says Cameron.

Critics point to younger, healthier individuals refusing to buy health insurance and pay a penalty instead as one reason why rates have continued to increase.

"This is an effort to attract them back to the pool to make it more affordable for everyone."

Cameron notes seven requirements will still be maintained, but didn't specify what they might cover. 

Companies offering a new state plan would be required to keep selling other ACA-compliant plans on the exchange.

Otter says the new plans would be targeted toward the 125,000 Idahoans without insurance coverage, including those that don’t qualify for Medicaid but make too much for subsidies on the Affordable Care Act.

In a statement, Blue Cross of Idaho CEO Charlene Maher says her company fully supports the move.

"Governor Otter’s executive order ensures more options, lower prices and continued access to individual health insurance, especially for middle-class working people who don’t currently have health insurance because they can’t afford it," Maher says.

Details will come out in a few weeks.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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As Senior Producer of our live daily talk show Idaho Matters, I’m able to indulge my love of storytelling and share all kinds of information (I was probably a Town Crier in a past life). My career has allowed me to learn something new everyday and to share that knowledge with all my friends on the radio.

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