Utah lawmakers dislike Reid's public-option proposal

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 27 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

That might be the best way to go, agreed Utah Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse. However, while not liking the general idea of a public option, Killpack said he doesn't yet know enough about what will come out of Congress.

What, for example, if the federal government decides states can opt out of the public insurance plan for citizens, but still require Utahns to be taxed to pay for that option?

"The federal government sometimes gives us the option to get out" of a federal program, like the CHIP, the state/federal plan for children in working low-income families, "but you have to pay in," Killpack said.

Wimmer is one of the leaders of the Patrick Henry Caucus, a states' rights movement starting up in several state legislatures.

The Reid U.S. Senate bill "still (has) the federal government so involved in health care," said Wimmer. "And it shouldn't be. Maybe (Reid) can buy a few votes with this (public option opt-out by a state), but I hope all Republicans will still oppose it," he said.

GOP Gov. Gary Herbert says it is too early to take a stand on the Senate Democrats' bill because it hasn't been written yet.

"That said, the governor has repeatedly said that the best type of health-care reform is one that allows states to be innovative, and to find the solutions that work best for their citizens," said Herbert spokeswoman Angie Welling.

Utah's own health-care reform — the Utah Health Exchange and other system streamlining efforts — is literal progress that should be allowed to continue under the legislation ultimately passed by Congress, said Welling.

The op-out trigger under Reid's proposal is that states develop coverage options and other real, working alternatives to sharing access to care and aren't just keeping federal involvement at bay.

e-mail: jthalman@desnews.com; bbjr@desnews.com

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