AARP Commends Gov. Otter Stance on State Health Ins. Exchange

Aug 22, 2011, 17:49 ET from AARP Idaho

$40 Million Grant from Feds Would Pave Way for Hundreds of Thousands of Idahoans to Find Affordable Health Insurance

BOISE, Idaho, Aug. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho:

"The single top concern of Idaho's 50+ is the same concern that plagues hundreds of thousands of Idahoans of all age groups, and many of the state's small businesses – rising health care costs.  

"Today, Governor C.L. 'Butch' Otter gave those Idahoans struggling with high health insurance costs a glimmer of hope by making the case for applying for a $40 million federal grant to create a State-based Health Insurance Exchange to help people and small businesses find health insurance that fits their needs and their pocketbooks.   AARP strongly supports the implementation of a state driven approach to the Exchange with strong consumer protections and commends Governor Otter for his stand.  

"Nearly half of Idaho's 50+ cited high health care costs their top challenge, with 51% worried about having to pay more for health care, and 40% worried about financial devastation because of it.  Roughly 234,000 Idahoans lack health insurance.

"The creation of the Exchange would allow individuals, families and small businesses to find affordable health care by giving them the same advantages large companies have when they negotiate group rates.  The Exchanges also bring greater transparency to the health insurance industry.

"With insight and feedback from consumers and consumer advocates, Idaho is in the best position to develop its own exchange.  By capitalizing upon its own strengths, finding solutions to its specific challenges, and providing a system that will work for and to the benefit of the consumer, Idaho has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of consumers when it comes to finding and affording health insurance.

"AARP Idaho looks forward to working with the Governor, lawmakers and key decision makers to help Idaho move towards the creation of a State Health Insurance Exchange that centers on the needs of Idahoans of all ages."

States have a September 30th deadline to apply for federal grants to set up the Exchanges.  Under the Affordable Care Act, states have until 2013 to show they will have a Health Insurance Exchange up and running within a year.  If states opt not to establish their own Exchanges, the federal government will run the Exchange for the state.  

AARP's key issues and guidelines for establishing State Health Insurance Exchanges can be found here:

AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with over 180,000 members.

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