"That is simply not true," Liljenquist said.
"Well, of course, it's true," Hatch responded.
"The vote I took in the Legislature removed a five-year waiting period for legal immigrants--LEGAL immigrants--to qualify for these programs. That's all I did," Liljenquist said.
"That's an expansion," Hatch said.
"That was not an expansion," Liljenquist said.
In fact, we and 26 other states are asserting our right and our obligation to say no to an unconstitutional federal health care program. Over the past three years we have worked closely with you in the Legislature to create solutions to reform Utah's health care system. We are also taking the lead to rein in outrageous cost increases in federally mandated entitlement programs, before those costs further impair our ability to fund education and other vital state services. In the election last November, the people sent a message that federal domination must give way to mutual collaboration. Unfortunately, that message was promptly ignored.
This Utah-crafted solution is an innovative approach to increase transparency in the health care system, to increase access and to increase choice. Already, hundreds of Utahns have coverage in plans they have chosen for themselves. This is a revolutionary approach to health benefits that will soon be available to even more Utahns.
Our Exchange is one example of how states can--and should--lead the nation on health care reform. We don't want or need a one-size-fits-all program that will balloon our national deficit and provide questionable care to our citizens. The continued encroachment of the federal government into our businesses, our lives and our pocketbooks must be challenged.
We are going to find policies that are affordable, the political will to enact them and, through perseverance, provide a pathway to coverage for everyone. Therefore, I am asking all involved: doctors, insurance companies, consumers and we in this chamber to close the gap on the uninsured by 2012. Let's begin this session by passing the task force legislation to develop a truly affordable insurance policy. But this is not enough. We must connect all people to the healthcare they need. A truly affordable policy and the means by which to connect all people will be done in this state, this year!
It is unacceptable that a young father who works for a small business and wants to buy insurance for his family is denied coverage because of minor ailments. Should eczema or post-partum depression preclude a family from getting affordable health insurance?
What business or family in Utah hasn't experienced rising health care costs or, even worse, had to forgo treatment for lack of coverage? In Utah there are now more than 300,000 people without insurance. That's one out of every eight of us. And many more fear that losing or changing a job may leave them without health insurance.
In a state that prides itself on practical solutions, this issue is crying out for a fix. We cannot wait for Washington's one-size-fits-all plan that does not account for Utah's unique challenges and abilities.
In addition to the children, there are hundreds of thousands of uninsured adults. We must stop kidding ourselves that those who are uninsured are simply not receiving health care. They are receiving care, but they are receiving too little, too late--and typically in settings such as emergency rooms where the care is much more expensive than if it had been provided elsewhere.
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