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Idaho Senate Set to Bring Home Divisiveness of Health Care Fight

Idaho Health Freedom Act Could Take Harsh Toll on 221,000 Uninsured & 213,000 Elderly Struggling with High Rx Costs

BOISE, Idaho, March 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Congress continues to battle over how to fix the broken health care system, Idaho's homegrown health care crisis may take a giant step towards growing even worse today. The controversial Idaho Health Freedom Act (HB 391) is up for a vote before the full state Senate today.  AARP opposes the bill as it could wreak havoc on Idaho's health care system -- resulting in even higher premiums, while costing the state both money and jobs. 

AARP is calling on the Senate to reject the vague, untried, unproven and risky measure.  As part of AARP's "accountability vote" efforts, the Association will track and report the roll call and inform all its 180,000 Idaho members how their Senator voted.  The Senate vote is the last step before the bill heads to the Governor, where it is expected to be signed into law.

"This bill does nothing to address the real issues Idahoans struggle with when it comes to health care – rising premiums, high prescription drug costs and unaffordable health care – and everything to make matters worse," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho.  "The fighting on this issue that has kept Idahoans from getting the health care relief they need has come home to roost – that's bad news for families, businesses and the elderly in our state."

AARP says the legislation could have severe and unintended implications on the health care system in Idaho and strongly opposes the bill because it:

  • Does nothing to address the real health care problems Idahoans face, high prescription drug and insurance prices, and the high cost of health care.
  • Contradicts existing state policy that requires all full-time students at state colleges and universities to carry health insurance -- without it they can't enroll.
  • Ties the hands of Idaho legislators with a permanent state law taking aim at a non-existent federal one, which could prevent action on needed state health care issues.
  • Will engage Idaho in costly litigation with little chance for success.
  • Could cost the state over $1.6 billion in federal matching funds for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), compromising the coverage for 260,000 Idahoans and losing thousands of state health care jobs.
  • Destabilizes Idaho's carefully constructed regulations for the insurance industry.
  • May prevent state regulators from addressing health insurance and health plan issues – leaving premiums, deductibles and co-pays subject to even greater increases.
  • Puts at risk Idaho's bid for the F-35 project -- this bill sends mixed messages, while telling the federal government to stay out of the state with one hand, with the other we're urging them to come and spend billions of dollars in Idaho and bring thousands of jobs.

Idaho's home grown health care crisis:

  • 221,000 uninsured; nearly 90% have jobs with many unable to afford soaring health insurance premiums.  Prices will increase by 40% in the next few years and double by 2016; 27% of Idaho's 213,000 Medicare beneficiaries have fallen into the Medicare prescription drug "doughnut hole," forced to pay 100% for their medications, leaving many to stop taking them.  Prescription drugs costs increased 11% over the last few months.
  • 400,000 Idahoans spend 10% of their income on health care while roughly 100,000 spend upwards of 25%.  Soaring health care costs will force families to pay even more in the coming years, leaving many to simply go without needed health coverage.

Follow us on Twitter @AARPIdaho and Facebook: AARP Idaho


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