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BOISE, Idaho -- The governor vetoed a bill to help Idaho block the federal health insurance overhaul and instead, issued a sweeping executive order Wednesday targeted at the reforms.
Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is no fan of the health care reform - he was the first governor to sign legislation requiring his state to sue over President Obama's overhaul - but said the bill state lawmakers passed in the 2011 session would have required Idaho to forego the creation of a state health insurance exchange.
That would have opened the door for the federal government to step to develop and operate the system, Otter said.
"While I agree that the state should not implement Obamacare, this legislation has the unintended consequence of eliminating a possible opportunity for Idaho and ceding control to the national government," Otter said in a letter to the Idaho Secretary of State detailing his decision to veto the bill.
The governor instead issued an executive order to prohibit Idaho agencies from implementing the reform, or assisting the government in carrying out the law, while still allowing the state to continue developing a home-grown health insurance exchange.
The crazy spreads. If an executive order from Republican Gov. Butch Otter forbidding state agencies in Idaho from accepting federal funds to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passes constitutional muster, the state would have to opt out of Medicaid in 2014. More than 220,000 of Idaho's citizens depend on Medicaid. Unless the governor and GOP-dominated Legislature choose to drop these folks off where the grizzly bears roam, they will have to come up with the money to treat them.
That amounts to around $1 billion a year, 40 percent of the state's entire annual budget. One way to pay for it? Cut public school funding by 85 percent. Given their hatred for public education, maybe that approach would suit Idaho's elected Republicans just fine.