But unlike many of his red state compatriots, Gov. Butch Otter (yes, that's really his name and of course he's a Republican) pushed hard for the state to create its own exchange, arguing that if it did so, it wouldn't be under the heel of the federal government. Eventually, the legislature concurred, and in late March approved it as a private, nonprofit corporation. Now the state is scrambling to get it ready by October.
The newly formed Idaho exchange board and the federal exchange office have been talking about ways the state can remain in control of its exchange while borrowing pieces of the federal exchange’s infrastructure. As interim Chairman Stephen Weeg puts it, Idaho is looking to “beg, borrow and steal” its way to the Oct. 1 start of open enrollment.Unfortunately, the Idaho legislature is interested in very little that might actually help Idaho residents, like considering taking federal Medicaid money to provide expanded health care to more residents. As far as a good chunk of the legislature—and obviously part of the exchange board—is concerned, sabotaging the state's own homegrown exchange isn't out of the question. Perhaps what the board should be doing is looking west, and consulting Oregon for how to do this.
“We’re trying to scramble and put everything together in an incredibly short amount of time,” said Weeg, who took the helm of the board when it was established last month. [...]
While even the states most enthusiastically implementing Obamacare are working through complicated policy and technical issues three years into building their own exchanges, the new Idaho exchange board still has to figure out the basics with less than five months until open enrollment starts — things like getting an office, setting ground rules for itself and getting the OK to draw down on federal grants. [...]
Still, there’s real concern within the exchange board about doing anything with the feds.
“The Legislature is not interested,” state Sen. Jim Rice, who sits on the board, said during a Thursday afternoon meeting. “That’s, frankly, why we set this up the way we did.”