Governor Butch Otter publicly threw in with his with friend Bill Deal and key allies at IACI to support creation of a state insurance exchange. They persuaded him, despite an absence of objective fact or clear congressional authority, that Idaho would be best served by "being at the table".
Governor Otter correctly states that the federal take-over of health care is "onerous, unwiedly and fraught with unknowns".
What he fails to cite is an objective basis for concluding that Idaho will have any real impact on the specifics of how ObamaCare is implemented, or how much it costs the taxpayers and businesses of Idaho. The claim by proponents that a state-based exchange is the ticket to protecting Idaho's rights seems the definition of circular reasoning: The only way a state exchange will qualify for federal approval is if it meets the demands of the federal government.
It would seem the best that Idaho might hope for is the kind of "flexibility" we are granted by the feds in running Medicaid: You take our money, you take our rules.
Otter's decision is a real disappointment. He had the chance to join some 20 other states in defying the federal government's demand that he submit to this disastrous and immoral scheme. With his leadership, Idaho might have pushed the cart toward a critical mass of defiance - whereby the federal government would be faced with a majority of states unwilling to put their credibility and public credit at risk. Now the most Republican state in the Union has surrendered to Obama, giving the president a serious public relations boost. That is downright discouraging.
In fairness to Governor Otter, it has been abundantly clear that he does not support ObamaCare and harbors great reservations about his decision.
Nevertheless, the bottom line is that the cry for "states' rights" has been reduced - once again - to mere rhetoric, suitable for discussion at conservative gatherings, but nothing worth going to battle over. The price of liberty, it seems, has gotten too expensive.
Our understanding is that Otter has directed Bill Deal to go get a bag of money from the feds to help pay for the initial set-up costs, although no one in America actually knows what those costs will be. Within weeks, the Idaho Legislature will convene. That body will have ample opportunity to review the governor's decision. They will have to authorize the expenditure of public funds received from the Obama regime. And they will probably have to create the legal framework for this undefined government expansion through legislation.
And then they will have the thorny problem of resolving the blatant conflict with Idaho's Health Freedom Act - signed into law by Governor Otter just two years ago. That law actually makes it illegal for state and local officials to use their public offices to enforce any part of ObamaCare against an Idaho citizen or business.
Will there be an attempt to actually repeal this law? Or will there be a slight of hand in which legislators are granted a clever legal pass by the Attorney General's office?
Needless to say, a great deal of intrigue lays ahead. The opportunity for Idaho citizens to affect this great debate has by no means passed. We will have much more to say about this matter in the days ahead.