House panel votes to introduce freshman reps’ insurance exchange ‘trailer bill’

Feb. 13, 2013 8:17 a.m. - Updated: 12:09 p.m.

Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, told the House Health & Welfare Committee this morning, “This is a trailer bill that will attach to what most of you probably know as SB 1042 over on the Senate side. This is a legislative oversight bill meant to protect individual rights and state sovereignty.”

Malek said his bill will add two legislators as non-voting members of the new health insurance exchange board, and will add additional oversight requirements.  “It will keep the Legislature and the public informed of each change that comes down from the federal government,” Malek told the committee. “It forces the federal government to pay for their mandate. It forces each move of the board into the public eye.” Malek said the measure also ensures the state can act immediately if the mandate to have an exchange goes away.

Rep. Brandon Hixon, R-Caldwell, said, “I think most people in the state don’t want to see PPACA coming down to where it’s at today, but I think this is a very good provision that we’ve put together in making sure that Idaho has some good say over what we have to do. … These are some good provisions. I’m going to support this motion.”

Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden, said, “I would certainly echo Rep. Hixon’s comments. I commend Rep. Malek, and I urge the committee to vote in support of introduction and printing of this bill as additional conditions before I think a state exchange could be considered over here on this side of the House.”

The committee then voted overwhelmingly to introduce the bill; only Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, dissented. He said he was worried about process, in moving forward a trailer bill before the original bill has passed at least one house. Committee Chairman Fred Wood, R-Burley, said he had the same concern, but checked with Legislative Services, and no rule forbids such a move. After the meeting, Vander Woude said, “I'm against a state exchange. Why would I vote for something that helps create it?”

Malek, Morse and Hixon all are House freshmen. In a few minutes, Malek and other House freshmen are holding a press conference on the issue in the 4th floor House majority caucus room.

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