The tone of the Utah State Legislature has been mostly a moderate one, sure we have seen a few bills that could be considered “message bills” from both the left and the right, but for the most part the bills being proposed by the legislature have been relativity down the line.
Of course, not all bills will fit into this mold, the law of averages alone will state that a few bills will be out there.
HB 364 – Nullification of Federal Health Care Law by Representative Daniel McCay (R – Riverton) would be an example of an extremist message bill.
When the federal health care law passed, and was found constitutional by the Supreme Court last year, many on the right were both dismayed and angry that tax payer dollars would be going towards others medical insurance. Debate has raged far beyond the confines of this post or of the bill, and so we will not be diving into this discussion when analyzing this specific legislation.
In many ways, this bill is the next step in Utah’s attempted rejection of the Affordable Care Act. Last year Senator Adams (R – Layton) proposed, and successfully passed, SB 208, a bill that would set up “The Health Care Compact” that read strait out of the playbook of those wishing to defeat the ACA. In short, Adams’ bill established the ground work for potential member states to come together to create an association style of government healthcare plans wherein the individual states, rather than the federal government, would make healthcare choices. This decentralized approach is strongly favored by Republicans, but also can result in inconsistent healthcare across state lines. Opponents have also argued that it essentially creates a mini federal government among a handful of participating states.
As of this writing, the compact has been approved in six other states (Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas), and introduced in 10 other states; it has also failed in four (Arizona, Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota). For those of you who have been paying attention, the Health Care Compact has also been endorsed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that has come under fire recently for having a disproportionate amount of influence on state legislatures outside of the public’s sight and direct influence.
Where Adams’ bill was a result of the ACA possibly passing, McCay’s bill is a result of the ACA actually passing and is, in essence, a sort of strongly worded letter to the federal government saying that Utah will “take joint and separate actions to suspend the operation of all federal laws, rules, and regulations regarding health care that are inconsistent with the laws adopted by the member states.”
In other words, the bill says “dear federal government, we are going to do whatever we need to to get rid of your federal laws that we don’t like in regards to health care.” The concern (and ultimately what gives this bill a negative review in our opinion) is to ask what this bucking of the system will look like. As a state, are we going to attempt to pass laws that run counter to the federal government, therefore potentially being found unconstitutional? If so, how much of our state resources are we willing to spend in this regard? Are we as a state so concerned about federal health care laws that we are going to defund various programs (most likely including those dealing with health care) in order to fight it? Do we value state control tomorrow over keeping people healthy today?
If the bill were to pass, these will be questions for future lawmakers. All this bill would do is open the door and make it state policy to intentionally thumb our noses to the federal government and the ACA – a potentially costly and losing battle.
To contact Rep. McCay, Click Here or call 801-810-4110
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill