SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah lawmakers have signed off on a plan to join in a compact with other states to petition the federal government for local control of Medicare and Medicaid.
In action taken Wednesday night, the House voted 45-23 on SB 208, which will allow the Beehive State to join in an interstate Advisory Health Care Commission and petitions Congress to leave control of federal health care programs to the state. The measure will be returned to the Senate for final review Thursday.
In joining the compact, Utah would join with Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri in an attempt to wrest control of the health care programs from the federal government and shift it to the state level. The programs would be funded by federal block grants.
"We know how to manage our resources and manage the dollar. We know how to do these things and do them better than the federal government does," House co-sponsor Brad Daw, R-Orem, said of the bill.
The initiative is sponsored by Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, who claims the move will allow Utah to be at the forefront of potential changes in regard to health care control issues.
Democrats have been sharply critical of the initiative. A news release from Senate Democrats said the bill would destroy the current Medicare system and replace it with what it termed an "undefined extremist Tea Party substitute."
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, who chairs the Senate's Health & Human Services Committee has called the bill a message bill.
Daw said the bill puts the framework in place to potentially take over management of the program, after studying potential changes with other compact members.
"We're not actually trying to take over anything," Daw said of the compact.