C.L. "Butch" Otter

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter speaks to reporters about the upcoming 2018 legislative session at the State Capitol building Jan. 5 in Boise. 

AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger

TWIN FALLS — Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is traveling the state this week to tout an executive order aimed at letting insurance companies create new health care plans that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act.

He met Wednesday with the Times-News editorial board with Lt. Gov. Brad Little, framing the order as solving problems caused by the ACA and expanded access for Idahoans. The Department of Insurance estimates that the order could lead to 30 to 50 percent lower premiums.

“It’s a problem that was caused by somebody other than us folks right here in Idaho, and we’re going to do our best to level the playing field,” Otter said Wednesday.

Earlier this week, state lawmakers introduced legislation to apply for two federal waivers to the Affordable Care Act, a plan aimed at making health care coverage accessible to a chunk of the 78,000 Idahoans who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to qualify for insurance subsidies.

The governor’s executive order, however, is directed at the estimated 70,000 people in the state who have left the insurance pool as a result of rising costs, Little said, as well as those who never entered the pool to begin with.

“Farmers are real susceptible because they can’t project their income,” Little said. “They might sell their crop one year, might sell it another.... And so people are dropping their insurance.”

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The Department of Insurance estimates that as many as 100,000 people could take advantage of the new plans. It hasn’t been decided yet which requirements will remain under the new guidelines, but pediatric and chiropractic requirements won’t be included, Little said Wednesday.

The department hopes to establish the new guidelines by March.

“I think we’ve got an opportunity to make a big difference,” Otter said. “This is essential to cover an awful lot of folks.”

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