Sen. Cruz’s reading list: Dr. Suess in prime time, Wayne Hoffman at 2 a.m.

Sen. Ted Cruz’s 21 hours of debate in favor of stripping funding for Obamacare featured a good deal of reading material, including a brief quote from Wayne Hoffman, executive director of the Idaho Freedom Forum.

At just after 2 a.m. Wednesday morning in Washington, the Texas Republican quoted from a statement from Hoffman, Idaho’s most vocal opponent of Obamacare and of GOP Gov. Butch Otter’s state-run exchange that starts selling health insurance Tuesday. Hoffman said that “countless Idaho doctors” had quit practicing medicine because of the new law, which is “destroying the quality of health care in Idaho.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday afternoon, Your Health Idaho held its own media event, a ribbon cutting to open the exchange’s Consumer Resource Center. The call center, in the Westgate Center at Westgate Drive and Fairview Avenue in Boise, is staffed by 10 contract employees who take questions about the law and guide callers to in-person assisters or an insurance agent or broker who may help shop for health insurance and premium subsidies from the government.

Hoffman’s words, as read by Cruz, warned of the dire consequences of the law’s rollout: “Obamacare is destroying the quality of health care in Idaho. The onslaught of new regulations and the fear of what might come next from Washington is not only raising costs, it has prompted countless Idaho doctors to give up medicine or join large hospital or group medical practices. As a result, the close knit doctor-patient relationships that have endured in many of our communities have vanished entirely.”

Earlier in his marathon speech, shortly after at 8 p.m. Eastern time, Cruz read from “Green Eggs and Ham,” by Dr. Seuss, a moment that received widespread coverage. Said Hoffman: “I like green eggs and ham.”

Hoffman told me he was asleep, traveling in Oklahoma City, when Cruz mentioned him. He sent an email and tweeted Wednesday afternoon, noting the honor and linking to the YouTube clip above.

Hoffman said he didn’t have permission to name any Idaho doctors who quit over Obamacare.

“I don’t know of a way to know the exact number of doctors (and other practitioners) who have left because of Obamacare,” he said in an email. “What I can tell you is a have met with many, many over the last three years, and they all tell me the same story. Had lunch with one just a week or so ago. They got into medicine to practice medicine, not push papers. Others tell me they don’t like what happens when patients get on government programs (more litigious, more likely to complain, more likely to miss appointments.)

“I don’t have permission to share any names with you. They weren’t hard to find, however, but then most sought me out.”

The Idaho exchange’s call center is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Call 1-855-944-3246 (1-855-YH-Idaho).

“Choosing health insurance can be complicated, and we want to make it easy for Idahoans to get answers to their questions about Idaho’s Health Insurance Marketplace, including information on plans, premium assistance and cost,” said Alberto Gonzalez, Your Health Idaho’s operations project manager, in a news release.  “Our Consumer Resource Center staff can also help Idahoans locate in-person assistance in their communities in the form of Consumer Connectors, including agents, brokers and Your Health Idaho trained In-Person Assisters.”

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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