TWIN FALLS • The fate of Idaho’s health insurance exchange remains unknown for yet another month.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has delayed making a final decision on whether Idaho will build its own exchange or rely on one that’s federally facilitated.
Health insurance exchanges are one of the critical elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Exchanges will serve as online marketplaces for consumers to shop and compare health insurance options.
Originally, the health care reform law required all states to make a final decision by Nov. 16. However, late Thursday evening, federal officials extended the deadline to Dec. 14.
The extension was part of a request from the Republican Governors Association. Otter had just returned from the RGA’s annual conference in Las Vegas when he made his decision Friday.
If Idaho chooses to build its own exchange, the state must also submit its plans for meeting the federal mandates on the exchange’s design and operation by Dec. 14.
In late October, Otter’s 13-member exchange advisory group urged the governor to choose a state-based exchange run by a nonprofit.
“I have my working group’s recommendation, and I have been listening carefully to stakeholders and citizens about this important choice. This extension gives us more time to get answers from HHS about what the federal requirements will be,” a statement from Otter explained. “I don’t want us buying a pig in a poke, so with this extension I’m hoping we’ll get answers to the questions and concerns we’re hearing from legislators and the public.”