Senate Committee Advances Disastrous Idaho Health Freedom Act

Friday, February 19, 2010 Education News
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AARP Says Bill Taking Aim at Non-Existent Federal Health Care Law Could Devastate Idaho Health System, Costing Money & Jobs

BOISE, Idaho,

Feb. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a move that could have dire effects on health care in Idaho, the Senate State Affairs Committee voted yesterday to bring the Idaho Health Care Freedom
Act (House Bill 391) one step closer to becoming law. Amidst grave concerns from both Senators and AARP, the legislation, which takes aim at a non-existent federal health care law, is now on track to come before the full Senate for a vote in the coming days.  

AARP says the untried, unproven and vague legislation could wreak havoc on the state's health care system – jeopardizing over $1.6 billion in federal matching funds for health care programs and possibly costing the state thousands of health care jobs. While the bill touts "freedom" and "liberty" as its guiding principles, it could in fact restrict Idaho from regulating the health insurance industry and result in higher insurance premiums, which are already expected to double in the coming years.

"AARP commends Senators Joe Stegner, Michele Stennett and Kate Kelly for taking a stand to protect Idahoans from this unnecessary and potentially disastrous legislation," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho. "The Idaho Health Freedom Act does nothing to address real health care problems facing Idahoans, such as high insurance premiums and soaring prescription drug costs. Those are the issues our legislators should tackle."

AARP's opposition to the Idaho Health Freedom Act

  • The bill does nothing to address Idaho's worsening health care crisis.
  • The measure could draw the state into a costly legal battle with little chance of success.
  • It will leave Idaho's ability to tackle health care issues subject to a court interpretation.  
  • If passed and signed into law, it could result in the loss of over $1.6 billion in federal matching funds for Medicaid and the State's Children Health Insurance Program – costing Idaho both money and health care jobs.  
  • The act may destabilize the state's insurance market, resulting in higher premiums.
  • HB 391 is vague, untried and unproven – leaving too much open to interpretation.

"The lack of a target hasn't stopped Idaho legislators from taking a shot. This permanent move to address a non-existent issue could result in severe implications for health care in Idaho," added Wordelman. "This bill is simply bad policy for Idaho and puts too much at risk for all those Idahoans struggling to afford skyrocketing health care costs."

AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with over 180,000 members.

Follow us on Twitter @AARPIdaho and Facebook: AARP Idaho

SOURCE AARP Idaho



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