Democrats denounce Healthcare Compact legislation

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to allow Utah to opt out of federal health care reform laws and assume responsibility for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid is “not a benign message bill,” said Senate Minority Assistant Whip Patricia Jones.

“This is a lose-lose proposition,” Jones said at a press conference Tuesday.

SB208, which is before the Utah House, which passed the Senate on a vote of 21-8 on Monday. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said he believes Utah could manage health care programs more efficiently and provide better care for patients.

Under the Healthcare Compact, the state would assume the federal funding for and oversight of programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP under a block grant funding mechanism. Funding for growth would be provided. However, Congress would have to give its approval to the states for the compact to take effect.

Four states have thus far joined the compact — Texas, Missouri, Georgia and Oklahoma –but the governors of two states, Arizona as one, have vetoed the legislation.

Jones said Utah is considered a national leader in the quality of health care it delivers. It is also a leader in providing affordable care.

It makes no sense, she said, to join forces with lower performing states in what some describe as an innovation.

“I don’t think we want to be No. 1 in experiments,” she said.

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