Health insurance the main topic of Q&A in exclusive call with small-business owners
Gov. Butch Otter made national news on January 5 when he issued an executive order allowing insurers to sell state-based health plans outside of the federal Affordable Care Act rules and regulations.
In an exclusive telephone town hall with NFIB Idaho members February 13, the governor, joined on the call by Lt. Gov. Brad Little, said his action could be challenged by the federal government, but he thought his initiative allowable under the 14th Amendment.
The governor said action was needed to help the 70,000 Idahoans without health insurance because of the ACA and called it highly unfair that some immigrants can afford health care that our own citizens can’t. The governor said insurers will start offering state-based plans in April and predicted health-insurance premiums to drop 30 percent to 50 percent, a calculation based on what 12,000 to 18,000 people whose policies were grandfathered in before Obamacare are currently paying.
The governor and lieutenant governor fielded other questions from NFIB members on issues ranging from when a world-class engineering university will be built in eastern Idaho to the difficulties of long-haul trucking. During the call, members were polled on five questions, the result of which were:
- If given a choice of three, 59 percent would prefer a reduction in red tape and agency regulations; 30 percent a cut in state and local taxes; 11 percent opted for tax credits
- 85 percent of members said access to flexible health plans would be beneficial to them, 15 percent said they wouldn’t
- 85 percent said Idaho does not, at the moment, have a competitive health-care market; 15 percent said it does
- 46 percent said finding skilled workers was their most pressing problem; 27 percent said dealing with regulations was; 19 percent cited taxes; 8 percent wanted more customers
- 73 percent of small-business owners in the poll blamed a poor work ethic on some of their younger workers, followed by a lack of technical skills at 25 percent, and drug use at 3 percent.
In addition to the poll questions, 10 NFIB members had their questions directly answered during the 45-minute town hall, which was hosted by Curt Cerveny of TelephoneTownHallMetting.com and Suzanne Budge, Idaho state director for NFIB. In his concluding remarks, the governor praised NFIB and called on its members to get behind his tax plan by lobbying their state representatives and state senators.
“Mine is going to be the best for small business. Suzi does a great job in the Legislature. She’s well respected. But we can’t do it ourselves,” said the governor, who urged NFIB members to call, send emails, and write letters urging passage of his tax bill, H463.
Click the photo below to listen to the telephone town hall.