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Senator Russ Fulcher: Four Reasons Why a State-Based Insurance Exchange is BAD for Idaho

January 30th, 2013 by Halli

by Sen. Russ Fulcher, Senate GOP Caucus Chairman
Found at Idaho Chooses Life

The legislature will soon vote on whether or not to create a state-based health exchange in Idaho. An exchange is the implementation mechanism for Obamacare (ie: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA). At this point, a state-based exchange is the wrong move for Idaho, and here are four reasons why:

1. IDAHO’S IMPLEMENTATION OF A STATE-BASED HEALTH EXCHANGE IS A FORM OF VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE THAT SUPPORTS PPACA, AND THAT HAS NEGATIVE LEGAL IMPLICATIONS FOR IDAHO. Voluntary compliance, and the acceptance of federal money that comes with it, will weaken Idaho’s legal position in lawsuits likely to be filed in the future. PPACA is very complicated and controversial. Aspects of it are certain to be litigated for years to come. Examples of potential lawsuits include: mandatory coverage for the dispensing of abortifacients, and the federal government’s use/misuse of personal data gathered on citizens.

The State of Oklahoma has already filed a lawsuit claiming that the federal government does not have the power to mandate individuals to buy health insurance simply as a condition of being a citizen. Idaho may want to take similar action(s), and that will be more difficult if Idaho is a voluntary compliant federal partner operating a state-based exchange.

2. IDAHO’S VOLUNTARY IMPLEMENTATION OF A STATE BASED EXCHANGE WILL ALSO MEAN THAT THE STATE WILL BE IN CHARGE OF ENFORCEMENT OF PPACA. There are at least six mandates in PPACA that have to do with the collection of personal information on citizens, including information regarding income, assets, and personal health. Implementation of PPACA will result in the creation of a massive, personal database on all Americans. One can only speculate on the governments’ potential uses (or misuses) of this data. Many Idahoans will not want to provide this information; and the state would be in charge of enforcement. Enforcement actions will create friction between state government and the people it serves. Federal officials know that enforcement of PPACA will be very unpopular and they do not want this responsibility.

3. THE LONG-TERM HEALTH OF THE PRIVATE INSURANCE INDUSTRY. Part of the evil genius of PPACA is that it depends on the private insurance industry to put the exchange mechanism in place. Ironically the organizations pushing hardest to implement state-based exchanges (the insurance carriers) have the most to lose, and here is why:

PPACA provides a government mandated increase in the number of policy-holders. Over the short-term, this will result in significant increases in revenue to insurance carriers; and understandably that is very exciting to the industry. However, what the insurance carriers aren’t considering is the long-term impact of a nation-wide exchange system under the auspices of the federal government. Once exchanges are implemented nation-wide, dependence on insurance carriers will be significantly reduced. At that point the system will be in place and it will make fiscal sense for the federal government to transition to a single-payer, federally administered social health care system nationwide. Maybe a few large carriers will remain (to run the books), but the private insurance industry as we know it will be gone. No one knows for sure exactly what will happen or how soon, but at a minimum the health insurance industry will be an oligopoly of quasi-government administrators. At maximum, they will be gone. Either way, it is a devastating loss of free market capitalism in America.

4. IT IS IRRESPONSIBLE FOR STATE LEADERS TO IMPOSE LEGISLATION UPON THE CITIZENS IT SERVES FOR WHICH NO ONE KNOWS THE COSTS AND THE RULES. The costs are not known and the rules are not written yet. It is responsible and wise to have the answers to these questions answered before proceeding with a state-based exchange.

According to the Kaiser Foundation, 25 states (as of Jan. 4, 2013) have opted NOT to cooperate with the federal government via a state-based exchange. With expertise and fiscal resources scarce, and with other complications caused by an unpopular nationwide mandate for citizens to purchase insurance (PPACA), the federal government is under immense pressure having to impose federal-based exchanges in so many states. The feds should be granted every opportunity to fail, and hopefully they will. Additionally, there are other political dynamics are at work in Washington DC that can make life more difficult for those seeking to implement PPACA. For example: The “fiscal cliff” (& ramifications) and the debt ceiling (& ramifications)…basically all the wondrous side-effects of a government in debt some $16 trillion.

The Idaho Republican Party, Farm Bureau, Tea Party, Idaho Freedom Foundation, Idaho Chooses Life and many others are correct: Idaho has much to gain and little to lose by refusing a state-based exchange. Accordingly, Idaho should be added to the growing list of states that do not comply.

Proponents of a state-based exchange claim such implementation “will put Idaho at the negotiating table”. This is false. Once Idaho complies with the state-based exchange, there is NO “negotiation table”…and there is no way the feds are going to make an exception for Idaho and sit down to negotiate terms.

Proponents also claim Idaho needs to “leave its options open”. This is good policy and substantiates the decision NOT to cooperate with a state-based exchange unless we absolutely, positively have to someday. FYI: Both HHS (Human Health Services) and the Heritage Foundation agree that states can transition to a state based exchange later – even if the feds come in and impose one in the mean time. There is no rush.

BOTTOM LINE:
If you believe in the principles of socialism and turning over an INCREMENTAL 1/6 of the nation-wide GDP to the federal government (via healthcare), then you will want to support the state-based exchange.

If you believe in the free market, capitalism, personal responsibility and liberty, you will NOT want to cooperate with a state-based exchange.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights, Jan. 28, 2013

January 28th, 2013 by Halli

By Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone

At the end of three weeks it probably looks to the casual observer that there is not much going on around here. There has been very little legislation that has come before the full house as of yet, but that may be a little bit deceiving. There is a lot of work going on in the committees and legislation is finding its way through the process.

The House State Affairs Committee is known for its handling of quite controversial issues. The Capitol Mall rules were not an exception to that. The hearing we held had several including the ACLU alleging that the rules violated their First Amendment rights. The committee did see some other potential problems and held them over for further review. It has been interesting to see that Idaho is probably the only state that has given these protesters a forum, and other states and cities have merely swept the occupy folks aside. We have been more than fair in listening to their complaints.

As part of the hearing, a video was shown of a gun toting individual rifling through legislators’ desks, photographing items on the desks, and going through garbage cans. That raised eyebrows and security procedures are being looked into. While that may not seem so important, it only becomes so if there happened to be something of a very personal nature or something of value that could be stolen. My advice to colleagues is to be careful of what you leave out for all to see. As we say at home, clean it up and put it away.

I have been receiving a lot of e-mails from our district on gun rights legislation. I see nothing at all on the horizon that anyone here will introduce to restrict the ownership of firearms. There is no doubt about how our people think on this issue. I have never seen a time when people are as worried as they are at this time about being able to have a means to protect their homes and families.

The health insurance exchange ideas are starting to mature a bit and all of the heavy hitters are weighing in. Governor Otter sent out a white paper indicating his reasons for supporting the proposal. A coalition sends out materials daily that seems to be the who’s who of the insurance industry agreeing with the Governor. Those who are opposed, some grass roots folks, have been giving their views as well. Most of my mail is opposed.

And now a word about the Boise Ice storm that extended all the way to Glenns Ferry. It was not an easy drive to the capital that morning. I commented to one of the lobbyists that the most dangerous part of the trip was from the parking lot to the building. “No kidding,” he said. He was crossing the street and fell in the crosswalk and could not get back on his feet because it was so slick. And then the light changed and there he was in the middle of the street. Where is a video camera when you need it?

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Emotion vs Common Sense on Gun Control

January 24th, 2013 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

To Americans who can still think, this week’s sensationalized gun-control presentation at the White House was all show, with little substance. The intended effect was to have us believe that the president was doing something about gun violence, but nearly all of his 23 recommendations are aimed at law-abiding citizens, rather than criminals.

You’d think that President Obama was from California, as masterfully as he stages events, complete with props, isolated talking-points, and emotional image manipulation. Perhaps it’s simply a “Chicago Way” skill acquired from “never letting a crisis go to waste.” The net result was an emotionalized response to a legitimate concern, which should’ve been approached with common sense, rather than emotionalism. This administration is perhaps the most adept ever at using fear and emotion to further its ideological agenda.

The props used in the presentation were four children who wrote to the president about gun control, and families affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary last month. Such blatant emotionalized exploitation of children for a political objective should be an affront to any sentient person. I couldn’t help but think of a picture I saw the next day of two adorable girls holding a sign that said, “Mr. President, we wrote to you about passing all of your debt to us. When do we get to be on TV?” Sorry, girls. That’s not an issue the president cares about; otherwise you could be similarly exploited, emotively, as child-props.

The props, staging, and presentation created the false image that if we care about those children, we must stand with the president in challenging constitutional rights and our own ability to defend ourselves. It’s a false dichotomy, for the basis of his Executive Orders is emotional, and the recommendations of no perceivable empirical value in protecting those children.

Proving that the 23 executive orders were all show and little substance, or mostly emotion and little common sense, consider the fact that had all of the president’s Executive Orders and Administrative Orders been in effect before last month, Adam Lanza would still have been able to perpetrate his crime in Newtown, Connecticut. As it is, he reportedly broke 20 laws that day. It is ludicrous to presume that a few more laws, regulations, or penalties aimed primarily at law-abiding citizens, would have prevented him from perpetrating his heinous act. What those orders will do is impede non-threatening citizens from procuring their own means of protection. The criminals will continue to break laws and regulations to get and do what they want.

At least Obama didn’t issue an Executive Order to ban certain types of weapons, or to enact what is undoubtedly his ultimate goal, the elimination of the Second Amendment altogether, and implement a complete gun ban. Had he done so, the consequences could well have turned sour for him with impeachment proceedings initiated in the House, and for the nation, as law-abiding gun owners across the country prepared to defend their rights against the tyranny of an administration that holds the Constitution, and certain of our inalienable rights, in contempt.

When we approach the issue logically versus emotionally, empirical data must be relied upon, rather than the highly emotional tugs at our heartstrings. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2003 thoroughly analyzed fifty-one in-depth studies dealing with gun control. Those studies included everything from the effectiveness of gun bans to laws requiring gunlocks. From their objective analysis, they “found no discernible effect on public safety by any of the measures we commonly think of as ‘gun control.’”

If we want to be serious about gun violence, first, abolish gun free zones, which blatantly advertise themselves to be uncontested areas to perpetrate mass violence. They allow loonies like Lanza to be foxes in a hen house. Armed citizens, like the one in an Oregon mall last month, are the best defense against the Lanzas of the world.

Second, address the gang violence issue in America. According to the Center for Disease Control, 70% of all gun violence occurs in the 50 largest cities, some of which have outright gun bans in place, and 73% of those crimes are committed by teenagers in gangs. Address the societal breakdown in the inner cities that fosters the gang culture, and armed violence drops significantly.

Third, focus much more effort on background checks including the abolition of the barrier that prevents mental health professionals from sharing patient information with law enforcement on individuals who pose a risk to society.

Fourth, rather than focusing on guns as an ideological agenda, start looking at all violent crimes. According to the FBI, there are 50% more non-firearm homicides each year than firearm homicides, 16,799 to 11,493. And the number one weapon used in all violent crimes is the baseball bat. Neither the bat nor the gun is the problem. The problems are cultural and societal.

And the media must quit playing into the quest for celebrity status by people like Lanza, and start praising people like Nick Meli who stopped the Oregon mall shooting rampage last month.

To solve the complex problems vexing the nation, we need much less emotionalized staging in reaction to crises, and much more common sense. Children used as props to advance an ideological agenda may provide a “feel good” moment for politicians, and even some citizens, but they solve no problems.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues, Second Amendment | No Comments »

David Ripley: Mourning the Loss

January 24th, 2013 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Four years ago we witnessed the first inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th president. His ascension to power coincided with the 36th commemoration of Roe v. Wade – and legalized abortion in the United States.

Today the forces which re-elected Barack Obama will party on the national credit card to celebrate their historic return to power. Such is our national history that the Obama Campaign has the right to claim such spoils.

The national pro-Life movement will conduct a huge pro-Life March down the National Mall on Friday, January 25th.

I had the privilege of addressing the March for Life in Boise in January of 2009, just days after Obama had taken his first oath of office. I read through the notes I made for that speech the other day to see where we were then. I asked the crowd to pray for President Obama, confident that the God who has shown me such mercy was anxious to do the same for Barack Obama and his family.

As Obama took office four years ago, the quasi-official death count due to legalized abortion stood at 49,489,528 innocent lives.

As he starts the second term, that number has risen to 55,808,387 babies destroyed in their mother’s womb through surgical abortion.

6,318,859 lives can be laid at the feet of President Obama and the policies he has pursued with such immoral abandon since placing his hand on the Bible four long years ago. In a very real sense, as he takes his second oath, Obama will be standing upon the broken bones of those innocents needlessly sacrificed.

Of course, Obama is not solely responsible for that carnage. But he is due no excuse or rationalization either.

The tone and content of his last campaign promise an even faster rate of destruction in the second term than in the first.

Implementation of ObamaCare alone nearly guarantees seven or eight million more preborn children will die before the nation finds potential relief in a new president – that is, unless the Lord intervenes in some other way between here and January, 2017.

But in those remarks I made four years ago, I declared we had to be vigilant against despair. I argued that we had to win the battle one baby at time, one heart at a time. Those thoughts are probably more valid today as we grieve over the long road ahead.

There will be all too much time in the coming months to discuss the expanding impact Barack Obama will have on our culture and morals in his second term.

I would like to conclude instead with a quote from Scripture which should help us keep perspective as we suffer the spectacle of the Abortion Industry dancing in the nation’s capitol:

“And now, O kings, give heed; take warning, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice before Him; with trembling pay homage to Him, lest He be angry and you perish from the way, when His anger blazes suddenly. Happy are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:10-12).

May the Lord speak wisdom into President Obama’s ear and soften his heart in the years ahead.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights – Jan. 21, 2013

January 24th, 2013 by Halli

House Highlights

By Tom Loertscher

It seems like there has been a study conducted about almost everything, but in spite of that we seem to be able to come up with new ones especially when there are government funds available. I have noticed that these studies seem to focus on providing excuses for what we want the outcome to be.

I couldn’t help but notice this last week when two piqued my interest. The first was a study about eating red meat and avoiding cholesterol buildup by drinking red wine. After hearing that, I had more questions than answers about the study. My doctor tells me that cholesterol levels have more to do with genetics than with what you may eat or drink. The other study was about farm kids. It concluded that kids who grow up on the farm are healthier, have less asthma, and are not subject to hay fever as much as their city counterparts. Some of the details were mentioned and the one that was the most interesting was that farm kids have things to do and work hard.

This last week was mostly taken up by rules review in almost all of the committees. Some of the most difficult ones are being “studied.” Three years ago a little bill passed the House that required the agencies to detail the specific reasons for new rules. The bill did not make it through the Senate but the agencies have gotten the message and have reduced the number of new rules over the past three years.

The “hot button” issues of healthcare (including Exchanges and Medicaid expansion) and Education Reform are being “studied” by legislators and others. At this point there is no way to tell how that will all turn out.

The House State Affairs Committee this week had a couple of proposals presented for introduction. Both were rejected by the committee and were returned to the sponsors for further “study.” The members of the committee were definitely feeling their oats that morning. They really worked over the one for the Athletic Commission (boxing, kick boxing, and others) and after it was turned back the comment was made that coming before this committee was sort of a contact sport.

As you can see we too like to study stuff. The only difference is that we are not after government grants to do it, at least not very often.

On a personal note, our grandchild number thirty one arrived over the weekend, a grandson. All is well with Mom and baby. Dad seems to be OK too. It would take no study to tell how Grandma and Grandpa feel.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Rep. Tom Loertscher | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Will Obama Exceed His Authority, Again?

January 24th, 2013 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Charged by President Obama with forming a task force to examine possible solutions to senseless shootings as we saw at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut last month, Vice President Joe Biden mentioned one tool available to the president is the Executive Order (EO). It is a viable tool for a president to specify how established constitutional precedent or statute are being enforced, but it cannot be used to create law. If the president uses the EO to limit the 2nd Amendment, or to raise the debt limit, as has also been suggested, he would clearly be acting unlawfully.

There is only the most tenuous support for the use of the EO in the Constitution. Article II, Section, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution instructs that the president, as head of the Executive Branch of America’s tripartite government (executive, legislative, and judicial) “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

And for the most part, that is how the over 13,000 Executive Orders have been used over the past 240 years. Presidents have issued them to clarify or facilitate executive branch employees and agencies in implementing or enforcing laws in the Federal Register, passed by Congress. In our constitutional republic, laws are made by the legislative branch, and either signed into law by the president, or the president’s veto overridden by the legislative branch. But laws are made by the legislative, not the executive branch. The executive branch’s responsibility is to ensure that the laws created by legislative act are enforced, or executed, if you will.

These constitutional restraints on executive power are all that prevent our republic from turning into a despotic, totalitarian state. The executive branch has grown so much in power over the past 100 years especially, that it would not take much effort on the part of an unprincipled power-monger to literally usurp power reserved to the legislative and judicial branches by the Constitution, and act in totalitarian fashion by declaring laws and edicts from the Oval Office.

That’s why many across the nation took note last year when Obama brazenly declared, “If congress doesn’t act, I will.” What that signaled to the nation is that Obama considered his power to not be limited by constitutional constraints, and that he could simply change or enact law by declaration, Executive Order, or fiat.

The use of the EO is only legal and binding if it is based on existing statute or an Act of Congress which gives the president the powers to do as he intends. This was established judicially by the landmark 1952 Supreme Court ruling of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 US 579. By executive order 10340, President Harry Truman declared that all steel mills in the country were to be placed under federal government control. The Supreme Court ruled, however, that the EO was invalid since Truman was essentially creating, or making law, as opposed to clarifying the executive branch enforcement of a law established by congress or the Constitution.

John Yoo, a law professor at Berkeley, said in a research piece last year, “It’s the duty of the president. He must always uphold the law.” He further indicated that the only exceptions in doing so are if laws are unconstitutional or if prosecuting them can be reasonably deemed not viable.

Yoo’s comments were made following Obama’s Executive Directive to the Department of Homeland Security, that essentially granted amnesty to certain illegal aliens. Yoo, and co-author Robert Delahunty of the University of St. Thomas, argued that Obama created new law, by declaring that his DHS was not going to enforce laws enacted by Congress.

Obama displayed the same contempt for constitutional constraints on his power when he declared he would not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.
This is precisely why many are concerned with yet another Obama term, where constitutional and legislative limitations on his power will likely be ignored even more blatantly. When the president of a country arbitrarily chooses which laws to enforce and which not to, and assumes or usurps powers of the states or other branches of government to which he has no lawful for legal claim, he is no longer functioning as a president for the people, but as a dictator of his own will.

On January 21, for the second time in four years, Obama will place his left hand on the Bible, raise his right arm to the square, and promise before the nation and the world that he will, to the best of his ability, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

If, after making that promise, the president willfully and intentionally breaks his oath to support the Constitution, by either imposing new restrictions on the 2nd Amendment, or to increase the debt limit, his actions will be tantamount to newlyweds immediately breaking their vows through infidelity. A president that acts outside of the law is, by definition, a criminal, and such unilateral usurpation of non-existent executive powers should legally be considered grounds for impeachment.

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Posted in Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Andi Elliott: Agenda 21 Smart Meters

January 19th, 2013 by Halli

By Andi Elliott

How many of us have expressed dissatisfaction with the US involvement in the United Nations but our country continues with our membership and paying tremendous sums of money for the privilege to do so? And the UN has relentlessly continued to advance their agenda of one world governance. Most noticeably, it has reared its ugly head in a program titled AGENDA 21. Sounds harmless enough…unless you object to more government control over your life.

Currently in Idaho Falls, authorities are installing SMART METERS which are devices that transmits energy consumption data to your local utility company replacing the hard-wired meters we’re accustomed to having. Sounds harmless enough until one delves into the research. The amount of electromagnetic radiation emitted by one of these devices is phenomenal and I’m sitting here with a stack of documentation citing a myriad of health problems associated with these SM’s…persistent headaches, nausea, insomnia, lack of concentration, increased cancer risks, heart problems, and studies even report ties with Alzheimers. These symptoms can begin within hours of installation. Cities are banning SM’s for a variety of reasons including health and safety concerns, skyrocketing electric bills, privacy issues (control of your energy usage), electrical fires and electronic interference.

SMART METERS are coming soon to a neighborhood near you so take time to educate yourself and then take the time to let your officials know your opinion. Also, check your credit cards for Radio Frequency transmitters and your new appliances for sensor devices monitoring your energy usage and allowing further invasion of privacy.

Andi Elliott
Hamer

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Falls Issues, Pocatello Issues, Property Rights, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: What Will State Exchanges Look Like?

January 17th, 2013 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The debate intensifies in the Idaho Legislature over whether we should submit to President Obama and become his reluctant partner in reshaping not just health care, but America itself. Proponents of creating a state insurance exchange continue to argue that Idaho should have a seat at the table. Perhaps, they insist, we will be able to bargain for better conditions of servitude if we partner with Obama.

And certainly thousands of details regarding Obamacare remain unknown because federal bureaucrats have yet to invent them.

But one fundamental is more than clear: We will have precious little power and much responsibility under the terms of surrender.

We know this already from the way the Feds treat Idaho in operating the other great partnership, Medicaid.

Betsy Russell of the Spokesman Review reports that Idaho is already under the gun with respect to Medicaid changes demanded by Obama’s regime. These changes – separate from the “expansion” of Medicaid – will apparently result in an increase of some 70,000 on Idaho’s Medicaid rolls. This set of changes is “mandatory”, according to Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong.

Russell says that “Idaho could lose huge amounts of its funding for its current Medicaid program if it didn’t comply with the changed rules”.

She goes on to quote Armstrong as telling legislators, “We have to comply with the mandatory requirements ACA (ObamaCare) makes to Medicaid. The stakes are huge if we don’t”.

That is the current picture, and a flash photo of the future under ObamaCare. Our elected officials, chosen to implement policies to benefit the sovereign state of Idaho, are already being treated as rubber-stamp bureaucrats by the federal government with respect to the current Medicaid program.

The mantra, should we implement ObamaCare through a state insurance exchange, will forever be, “the consequences of non-compliance will be huge”. Just a re-run of the movie we’re already forced to watch, at great cost to taxpayers and employers.

As Chief Justice John Roberts urged in his opinion on ObamaCare, the States must take a stand.

Idaho must continue to resist the further erosion of its sovereignty by refusing to create a state insurance exchange.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Rep. Tom Loertscher: House Highlights – Jan. 14, 2013

January 15th, 2013 by Halli

By Tom Loertscher

Each year before the legislative session begins the news media in particular asks legislators what they think will be the big issues for the year. I can always think of a few but inevitably there are surprises along the way. This is bound to be one of those years that will have several heavy issues and difficult decisions to make.

It was a vintage Governor Otter that we heard as he delivered the State of the State and Budget address on the opening day on January 7th. He is very good at building up his audience with great things and I think it is an effort on his part to make everyone feel good about Idaho. There is no question how he and all of us feel about Idaho and at times we need to be reminded about what a great place this is to live and raise our families.

As for the rest of the address he was a little short on some details. He urged passage of Health Insurance Exchange legislation. I haven’t seen what he is proposing but he seemed to want the legislature to fill in a lot of the blanks. Most of the correspondence that I have been receiving on this item has been opposed to the idea no matter what form it might take. The biggest questions for me are as to just what it will take to make the Feds agree to a plan and what the cost of a new bureaucracy will be. And as usual it looks like Federal Agencies will be dictating an awful lot to us. This should be a very interesting topic. Medicaid expansion has been recommended by the Task Force the Governor appointed but he hedged about whether he was going to pursue it this year. In my view Medicaid expansion is another big ticket item and the price tag over time, given past experience, will be great.

In several areas of the state (and ours is no exception) another big issue is the proposed repeal of the personal property tax. A real shock for most who were listening was Governor Otter recommending that the legislature look at local option taxation as a means of replacement revenue. Given the state revenue forecast for the year and into the future, it is difficult to ever come up with adequate state revenue to replace the tax statewide. For a local option of a local income tax, or a local sales tax seems to be an uphill battle for most jurisdictions. And in addition for some of the smaller communities it would to be a local business killer as well. I happened to be looking at one of the conservative group think tank directors when the Governor brought up the idea of local option and I thought the fellow was going to fall from the gallery.

The mention of and a plan to build a secure mental health facility in Boise is probably something the Legislature is going to have to consider very seriously. I will be looking for details as to how this will work as opposed to community based services. Family involvement is essential to good outcomes in the mental health system. With our mental health courts we have been the model for the entire nation and we have to make sure that we take full advantage of what we have accomplished.

For now we are all set up and ready to roll. With all of the new legislators this year you would have a hard time recognizing the place but all of the new folks are eager to make their mark on history. I have kidded a few of them by telling them that they have no idea what is about to hit them. It won’t be long now.

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Posted in Family Matters, Idaho Legislature, Rep. Tom Loertscher, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: Blue Cross Sued in Federal Court

January 13th, 2013 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

An Ada County woman has filed a federal lawsuit against Blue Cross of Idaho for engaging in practices which unfairly limit competition. Melissa Allen wants to get her case treated as a “class action” lawsuit so that all Idaho premium holders could benefit if she wins.

Allen notes in her lawsuit that Blue Cross commands 52% of the entire Idaho market. The next-largest competitor is Regence Blue Shield, which serves 22% of Idahoans with private health insurance.

Ms. Allen charges in her suit that Blue Cross’ dominance is the result of an illegal conspiracy between various subdivisions of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, in which participant organizations have divided up the nation into exclusive territories free of competition.

It is through such a monopolistic arrangement that Blue Cross has amassed some $400 million in assets and profits, according to Ms. Allen.

Blue Cross officials told the media that they would vigorously fight the lawsuit.

The lawsuit has been consolidated with other, similar lawsuits in an Alabama courtroom.

Questions have been asked around the Idaho Statehouse about the lack of competition in Idaho’s health insurance market for years. Those questions have become intense as Blue Cross has pushed legislators hard to create a state “insurance exchange”. Regulators in other states have opposed such a move largely because they believe that Blue Cross’ control of state insurance markets will only expand under governmental sponsorship of their product.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Taxes | No Comments »

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