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AARP Idaho Advocates for State-Based Health Insurance Exchange

Peggy Munson Testimony

Boise, Idaho - AARP Idaho state volunteer president Peggy Munson testified in front of the Idaho Senate Commerce & Human resources committee in support of a Senate Bill 1042 which would establish a state-based health insurance exchange in Idaho.

After two days of hearings the legislation won near-unanimous support on an 8 to 1 vote. The bill will now move to the Senate floor for debate.

AARP Idaho is interested in the establishment and implementation of a state-based health insurance exchange, as this is vital to the effort to both extend health coverage to populations who are uninsured today, and facilitate and improve coverage access and affordability for those already in the individual and small group markets.  The exchange will provide a new avenue for Idahoans to learn about and enroll in private and public coverage options.  In addition, it will be the way that individuals can access new subsidies to help make private coverage more affordable. 

AARP Idaho backs state implementation of a health exchange that is consistent with Idaho’s state’s rights stance and as such, will advocate for transparency, outreach and education, and consumer focus as lawmakers begin debating and establishing a state-run health insurance exchange.

Testimony Presented to Senate Commerce Committee February 7, 2013 from Peggy Munson (Photo courtesy of Betsy Russell/Spokesman Review)

Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee.

My name is Peggy Munson. I am a retired geriatric nurse and currently serve as the AARP Idaho state volunteer president. Thank you for the opportunity to offer our perspective on this important public policy matter.

AARP Idaho is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization; representing 178,000 members aged 50+ across Idaho. I speak to you today in support of Senate Bill 1042.

Given the nature of the choices we are faced with, it is important for us to establish a set of facts that we can all agree on. The facts are:

  • On March 23rd, 2010 President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act – that is a fact.
  • That same day Idaho joined 13 other states and filed suit to challenge constitutionality of the ACA – that is a fact.
  • In June of 2012 the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the ACA – that is a fact.

 

Most of the discussion at Tuesday’s hearing centered around the approach of just saying no or delaying action.   These are not choices we have. Please, make no mistake: whether Idaho chooses a state-based health exchange or defaults to a federal exchange, the fact of the matter is…there will be a health exchange in Idaho whether we like it or not.  Therefore, we respectfully urge your support of this bill so Idaho can have the opportunity to take responsibility and control for its insurance marketplace.

Governor Otter has shown tremendous leadership throughout this process and has defended Idaho’s sovereignty at every turn. But the Governor recognizes that given the lack of options, the path forward that is in the best interest of all Idahoans is to adopt an Idaho-based health exchange.

Idaho is a poor state, an aging state, and 278,800 Idahoans are without health insurance today.

Who are these Idahoans?

They are hard-working people, many of whom have children.  For a variety of reasons they cannot afford health insurance, but they have medical needs.  These needs are not going away. 

For instance, a 58-year old man who was laid off from his job and isn’t old enough for Medicare, yet doesn’t qualify for Medicaid or have access to employer provided health insurance could qualify for a tax credit that would allow him to purchase quality, affordable health insurance.  This is a good thing. 

The time to act is now.  A state-base exchange managed by Idahoans for Idahoans is the best path forward.

 

 

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