Senate passes bill to fund health insurance mandates

Published: Monday, Feb. 13 2012 3:03 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — State-approved health insurance mandates would not go unfunded under a bill the Utah Senate approved Monday.

SB138 requires the state to pay for implementing health insurance mandates passed after Jan. 1, 2012. The bill sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, would cover employers in the state employees' risk pools, public school districts, charter schools and higher education.

"We're kidding ourselves if we impose a state mandate and not pay for it. That's what our federal government does," said Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem. "In this case, we are putting our money where our mouth is."

Lawmakers are currently considering a dozen health care mandates that, if passed, would be subject to SB138.

The Senate approved the bill with a two-thirds majority, and the House must do the same before it could go to the governor.

Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, voted against the bill, saying that although he supports the idea of holding government accountable for costs associated with mandates, now is not the time to pass the bill. Each mandate should be considered individually, he said.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley, said the issue isn't a single mandate.

"This is about policy, he said. "If it is correct policy for the Senate to require organizations or company to follow a certain set of rules, it is absolutely irresponsible to exclude us. If it is a correct policy for them, it is a correct policy for us."

Dennis Romboy Twitter: dennisromboy

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