Hundreds attend Senate hearing on state-run health exchange

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - About 200 people Tuesday heard competing versions of what will happen to Idaho if lawmakers adopt a state-based, privately-run insurance exchange.

Aides for Gov. Butch Otter told the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee that Idaho residents will have more control and pay lower costs if the state designs and builds its own exchange.

Meanwhile, Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation warned that Otter's bid for Idaho to set up its own online marketplace for individuals and small businesses to buy insurance would put the state under the federal government's thumb.

No committee vote is expected until Thursday.

David Hensley, Otter's chief of staff, said the federal government has $20 million ready to help Idaho set up its own exchange.

The exchange would cost $10 million annually to operate.