Your Health Idaho Director Briefs Legislature: 'I Don't Have a Crystal Ball' Re. Pending Obamacare Repeal's Impact 

RYAN JOHNSON
  • Ryan Johnson
Among the most consistent campaign promises made by President-elect Donald Trump was the "repeal and replacement" of the Affordable Care Act, but the Republican majority U.S. Congress isn't waiting for the new commander-in-chief to be sworn in Friday, Jan. 20—already lawmakers have begun the process of dismantling the historic health care reform fronted by President Barack Obama.

With two days until Trump takes the oath of office, the executive director of Your Health Idaho stood before a committee of the Idaho Legislature Wednesday morning and promised all was well when it came to the Gem State's health insurance exchange. At least for now.

Following a 20-minute presentation before the House Health and Welfare Committee, Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) quizzed Your Health Idaho Director Pat Kelly about the fate of the tens of thousands of Idahoans who received a federal tax credit in order to secure their health insurance through the Idaho marketplace.

"You say that 87 percent of people who get coverage through the exchange receive tax credits. What would happen if the Affordable Care Act is repealed and those tax credits went away?" asked Rubel. "Would they potentially lose their coverage under the exchange?"

click to enlarge GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
"I don't have a crystal ball," Kelly cautioned, but in the case of a "straight-out" repeal of so-called "Obamacare," he added, "Yes, 87 percent of our customers would no longer receive monthly assistance with their premiums."

The committee was briefed on the history and current status of Your Health Idaho, including data that revealed approximately 95,000 Idahoans secured health coverage through the exchange in 2016 and more than 100,000 Idahoans had already sought coverage during the current 2017 enrollment period, which wraps up in two weeks.

According to a recently released Boise State University public policy poll, Idahoans are big fans of key elements in the ACA: 87.4 percent of poll respondents said they favor guaranteed insurance coverage for people with preexisting medical conditions and a majority (51.2 percent) want to keep Your Health Idaho in place.

"We are first in the nation in per capita enrollment among all state-based exchanges," Kelly told lawmakers. "Plus, Your Health Idaho has saved Idahoans nearly $15 million in assessment fees."

Kelly explained the savings came when comparing Idaho's 1.99 percent assessment fee, which helps fund operation of the exchange, versus a 3.5 percent assessment fee on the federal exchange.

"But as for the year ahead? Well, that's the $64,000 question. But we're prepared for change," he said.
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