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Foes of Idaho exchange still favor nullification

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm •  Published: February 5, 2013

"We don't want to leave those individuals and small business at the mercy of the federal government," Hensley said. "Even with the restrictions of Obamacare, we know we can do a better job at this than the federal government."

Hensley estimated that the $10 million annual cost of a state exchange would cost each of the roughly 177,000 Idaho residents expected to buy insurance through it about $58 annually. The cost of a federal exchange could be more than $150 annually, or three times the state rate, Hensley said.

Another day of Senate hearings on one of the 2013 session's marquee issues is slated for Thursday. But if Tuesday's hearing is any indication, foes will be out in force.

As has often been the case in the debate over Obama's overhaul, those who spoke in the Capitol's auditorium during the 1½ hour hearing invoked the language of revolutionary America to underscore their fear that an exchange is tantamount to tyranny.

"Since when has the federal government been able to force us to do anything, since King George himself?" said Domenic Gelsomino, a Boise State University student active with the group Federation of Idaho College Republicans. "Your constituents have wanted it to be brought down."

Others, however, said the prospect of an exchange, whether run by Idaho or the federal government, was a virtual certainty now that the federal health care overhaul had been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and because President Obama was re-elected in November.

Given that, Idaho should create its own, said Fernando Veloz, who heads up the Employer Health Coalition of Idaho, whose members include insurance companies that favor a state-designed exchange.

"Creation of the exchange is inevitable," Veloz said. "The state will come out better with a state exchange."