New health exchange bill up for introduction Wednesday in Idaho House

“Be there or be square” was the talk of the Statehouse Tuesday, as behind-the-scenes negotiations intensified on Gov. Butch Otter’s plan to enact an Idaho-run health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

A new bill aimed at capturing votes will be presented at 9 a.m. by freshman Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene.

The bill, which remains private until Malek introduces it, is on Wednesday’s agenda in the House Health & Welfare Committee.

Malek deferred questions late Tuesday, repeatedly answering, “I’ll be able to tell you more tomorrow.”

House freshman are considered pivotal to Otter’s prospects. Last week, the Senate Commerce & Human Resources Committee voted 8-1 for Otter’s bill.  Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said Senate Bill 1042 will not be debated this week.

It’s not clear whether Malek’s bill is a replacement for SB 1042, or is a “trailer” bill meant to accompany the Senate measure.


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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