Idaho to shun federal financial aid for building a health insurance exchange

Health Care ReformIdaho legislators are opposing the idea of using federal grants to build a health insurance exchange in the state. Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services rewarded $20.3 million to the state in order to help with the project. Governor C.L. Otter was eager to use the money to push ahead the construction effort and prepare the state for a new health insurance system. Legislators failed to approve a plan that would put the money to use, however, they are now looking to build an exchange without federal aid.

Conservative legislators are not keen to accept the Affordable Care Act, the federal law that requires each state to build a health insurance exchange. These lawmakers have assured constituents that they will not bend to the whims of the current administration and will be exploring alternatives. Democrats, however, call the move reckless. Regardless of the politics involved, the state will be returning the money it had received in federal grants.

Choosing not to accept financial aid from the federal government could slow progress toward establishing an insurance exchange. The state may struggle to pay for the project on its own without introducing new tax laws that would help bolster the budget. Idaho has until 2014 to create a fully functioning insurance exchange. If the state fails to meet this deadline, the federal government will take charge and build one that state lawmakers will not be able to participate in.

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