BOISE — This week, the ninth of the 2018 legislative session, state officials and lawmakers:
• Found out non-ACA plans are in doubt
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Lt. Gov. Brad Little started the 2018 legislative session with a bang: an executive order that would allow Idaho insurers to sell plans that don’t comply with the minimum coverage standards under the Affordable Care Act. The move was bold enough to capture national attention, as health care reporters sought to determine whether the Trump Administration might simply refuse to enforce the ACA.
But this week, it became clear the administration would enforce the ACA, at least in this case. On Thursday, Seema Verma, administration of the Department of Health and Human Services, sent a letter to Otter and Idaho Department of Insurance Director Dean Cameron indicating that the ACA remains national law and if Idaho won’t enforce it the feds will be obligated to.
The letter ripped the ACA and encouraged state officials to continue seeking alternatives, but found that many of the proposals for the state-based plans authorized by the executive order violate federal law, and warned that if the state implemented them the feds would have to enforce the law.
• Advanced an anti-trespassing law
One of the most heated debates of the 2018 session concerns a bill that would increase penalties for trespassing while reducing posting requirements.
For recreationists, this creates major concerns. In the backcountry, where fences don’t always mark property lines and it can be difficult to determine precisely where you are, they worry individuals who accidentally stray onto private land could face huge fines and even felony charges.
Farmers told horror stories as well, many arising from individuals trespassing on farms to steal equipment or driving through fields to spin in wild circles, damaging crops and risking starting fires.
An earlier, more aggressive version of the bill was found to be unlikely to survive constitutional scrutiny. A new version has been recommended for passage by the House Agricultural Affairs Committee.
• Recommended an abortion reversal bill
Abortion is a medical procedure with unique requirements in Idaho, the consequence of years of bills meant to reduce the number of abortions that take place without running afoul of the Roe v. Wade decision, which found that women have a right to the procedure.
So-called “informed consent” materials are a set of information that the Legislature has mandated women seeking abortions receive, regardless of whether it is considered important information by doctors. Idaho requires women to receive information about government services pregnant women can receive, physical descriptions of a fetus at various gestational ages and, following a recent bill, an unvetted list of facilities that have filled out a web form asking to be listed as ultrasound providers.
A new bill would require that women obtaining abortions induced through medication — abortions of this type are generally performed very early in pregnancy — to be informed of a controversial procedure meant to reverse such an abortion partway through. Though there isn’t yet good scientific evidence the procedure is effective, or that it is safe for the particular group of women in question, the North Carolina doctor who pioneered it promised such evidence would soon be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Quote of the week:
“This is like increasing the fines and penalties for speeding and then taking down all the speed limit signs so no one knows how fast they’re supposed to be going.”
— Michael Gibson of Trout Unlimited, testifying on the trespassing bill.