Trump administration reluctantly warns Idaho to follow the Obamacare law, but will Idaho listen?

Trump administration reluctantly warns Idaho to follow the Obamacare law, but will Idaho listen?

Saner heads appear to have prevailed at the Department of Health and Human Services, where they've decided Trump's Obamacare sabotage has to remain within legal bounds. The head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Seema Verma, has warned Idaho that its decision to allow insurers to sell plans that don't comply with the law is out of bounds, and if the state "fails to substantially enforce the law, the [CMS] has a responsibility to enforce these provisions on behalf of the State."

Verma goes to great lengths to make clear to Idaho that if it wasn't for that whole pesky "law" thing, she'd be right there with Idaho. She doesn't want to have to enforce the law, which, she writes "is failing to deliver quality healthcare options to the American people and has damaged health insurance markets across the nation, including Idaho's." Having to step in and enforce the law, she writes, "is certainly not our preference." So the letter spells out all the ways in which the state can sabotage Obamacare within the bounds of the law. That includes telling the state "that, with certain modifications, these state-based plans could be legally offered [as] short-term, limited-duration plans," and encouraging the state "to continue to engage in a dialogue with my staff regarding this and other potential options."

For its part, Idaho's is showing typical knee-jerk, ill-informed resistance.

However, in an interview early Thursday evening, Dean Cameron, Idaho’s insurance director, quickly suggested that the state is not prepared to give up. […]

In the interview with Cameron, the Idaho insurance director said he had not had a chance to read the letter or review it with the department’s attorneys, though he was familiar with it.

"We strongly disagree that we are not substantially enforcing the law," Cameron said. "We feel it would be hard-pressed for the administration or for CMS to argue those points in a court of law." Cameron called it "ironic" that HHS is urging Idaho to rely on new rules for short-term plans, because the "state-based plans" his department has decided to allow include stronger consumer protections.