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Emilie Ritter Saunders reports:  Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s health insurance exchange plan will move forward for a full vote in the Idaho Senate.

Lawmakers on the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee spent more than 90 minutes listening to a second day of public testimony and debating the proposal before voting 8-1.

The overriding theme: Idaho will be able to create and manage a more affordable and effective health insurance exchange than the federal government.

The one dissenting vote came from Sen. Branden Durst, a Democrat from Boise. Durst voiced concern over the 16-member, governor-appointed board that will oversee the online marketplace. He says there should be more legislative oversight.


Each Republican on the panel who spoke said they disagreed with the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, and were disappointed the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law. But each recognized the health care law is here to stay, for now, and said state control is better than federal control.

Sen. Dean Cameron (R-Rupert) owns and operates an insurance agency. He’s previously said a health insurance exchange will hurt his business, yet he voted in favor of Gov. Otter’s state-based exchange.

“Abandoning the battlefield does not make the federal government weaker, it makes them stronger,” says Sen. Cameron. “I believe the motive of the Affordable Care Act is to move us to a single-payer system…the state refusing to set up a state exchange empowers the federal government and allows the federal government to move us toward that single-payer system quicker.”

Senate Bill 1042, which would create a state-based exchange, now goes to the full Senate for a vote. If it passes, the proposal still has to work its way through the House.

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