GOP legislative leaders tell governor state should not run federal health exchange

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 14 2012 6:00 p.m. MST

Waddoups said the future of the state's more limited health care exchange, now known as "Avenue H," is in question. He said it could be turned over to the private sector, merged into the federal program or allowed to "die a noble death."

Lockhart told a reporter the state may end up in court over concerns about the impact of the federal health care law on the state, including on the state employee health insurance plan.

"It would be on the table, absolutely, if that is an option for us. We need to look at all the options," the speaker said, citing the increased costs to taxpayers associated with the new law.

On Tuesday, legislative leaders were warned that the state faces up to a $40 million fine under the law that takes effect in 2014 if state employees who work more than 30 hours a week are not provided with health insurance.

Retiring House Minority Leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, said Democrats have not taken a position on whether the state should be involved in a federal health insurance exchange.

Litvack, who like Waddoups did not run for re-election, said he wants to know the reasoning behind the GOP position.

"What's the pragmatic or the practical way to go? Some would say it makes a lot of sense to have the state run the exchange," Litvack said. "I would hope this is not political. I would hope it's not a statement, ‘We don't want to play.'"

Members of the GOP House caucus heard a presentation on the deadlines facing the state on the health care law from legislative attorney Cathy Dupont. 

"It's a huge amount of change," Dupont said.

She said there are issues that lawmakers will want to consider in the 2013 Legislature, including whether to expand Medicaid as allowed under the new federal law.

Dupont suggested that lawmakers consider negotiating with the federal government on that and other issues associated with the law, calling it an opportunity for them to "get as creative and pushy" as they want.

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com

Twitter: dnewspolitics

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