State Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, a Republican, said the federal government was taking advantage of private insurers and would "pull the trigger" on them in the future, the Boise Spokesman-Review reported Thursday.
"The insurance companies are creating their own tombs," she said in an email. "Much like the Jews boarding the trains to concentration camps, private insurers are used by the feds to put the system in place because the federal government has no way to set up the exchange. Based on legislation and the general process that is written toward this legislation, the federal government will want nothing to do with private insurance companies. The feds will have a national system of health insurance and they will eliminate the insurance companies."
Nuxoll defended her analogy, saying she wanted people to "hear the truth and to be aware that what is being presented before us is a socialistic program."
"There is no disrespect for any group or people with the analogy," she said.
In an email that was linked from her Twitter page, Nuxoll said a Spokesman Review reporter questioned her about the analogy, "implying that it was inappropriate and wrong to use the analogy."
"My question to [the reporter] and all of you is; would it be any different had I changed the subject matter from Jews to Catholics? Or any other group of people that were victim to annihilation?" she wrote.
Sen. Brent Hill, also a Republican, said he didn't fault Nuxoll because the matter "is a very emotional issue for a lot of people."
Democratic Gov. Butch Otter's legislation, which favors a state-based health insurance exchange program rather than a federally run exchange, was introduced in a Senate committee Tuesday and has the support of the state's health insurance industry.
"I am shocked by that message," said Marnie Packard, manager of Idaho government relations for PacificSource Health Plans, one of five major Idaho health insurers participating in a coalition advocating the state-based exchange. "I think that some of the terms that she used can be very offensive to a lot of people."
Under the Affordable Care Act, the exchanges serve as an online portal for consumers to shop for health insurance.