BOISE, Idaho, March 9 Idahoans buckling under soaring health care costs didn't get any help from the Idaho State Senate tonight. In fact, with the passage of the Idaho Health Freedom Act (House Bill 391), they may have just made matters worse.
AARP has made tonight's vote part of its "accountability vote" efforts: The Association will track and report the roll call and inform all of its 180,000 Idaho members how their Senator voted.
While across the state Idaho residents are being hit with soaring insurance premiums, leaving over 100,000 people to spend more than 25% of their income on health care, tonight they received another roadblock to relief. The legislation not only could spell disaster for Idaho's current health care system, it could also cost the state federal matching money that allows Idaho to provide needed health care for the state's children and families.
"This legislation will do more harm than good for Idaho, is full of unintended consequences and brings home the divisiveness and fighting that have kept Idahoans from the health care solutions they need," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho. "This legislation does nothing to address the health care crisis facing hundreds of thousands of Idahoans and everything to make that crisis worse."
Idahoans are currently seeing their health insurance premium increases soar into double digits - these premiums are expected to double in the next few years. In Idaho, over 220,000 people are uninsured, that number is expected to soar as more of the state's unemployed lose health care benefits. 213,000 older Idahoans are stuck in the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" where they are paying 100% of the cost of the prescription drugs, forcing many to skip taking their needed medications.
"AARP commends the Idaho Senators who did what was right and took a stand against this disastrous bill," added Wordelman. "Those who voted in favor of this bill voted to make Idaho's health care problems worse for children, families and the elderly."
The legislation could have severe and unintended consequences and is strongly opposed by AARP because it:
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-- Does nothing to address the real health care problems Idahoans face, high prescription drug and insurance prices and the high cost of health care. -- Contradicts existing state policy that requires all full-time students at state colleges and universities to carry health insurance -- without it they can't enroll. -- Ties the hands of Idaho legislators with a permanent state law taking aim at a non-existent federal one, which could prevent action on needed state health care issues. -- Will engage Idaho in costly litigation with little chance for success. -- Could cost the state over $1.6 billion in federal matching funds for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), compromising the coverage for 260,000 Idahoans and losing thousands of state health care jobs. -- Destabilizes Idaho's carefully constructed regulations for the insurance industry. -- May prevent state regulators from addressing health insurance and health plan issues - leaving premiums, deductibles and co-pays subject to even greater increases. -- Puts at risk Idaho's bid for the F-35 project -- while telling the federal government to stay out of the state with one hand, with the other we're urging them to come and spend billions of dollars in Idaho and bring thousands of jobs.
SOURCE AARP Idaho