Senate Approves Bill to Make State Pay for Health Insurance Mandates

(KCPW News) A bill that requires the state to pay for health insurance mandates that lawmakers pass onto other public agencies cleared the Senate floor this morning. Republican Senator Todd Weiler’s plan would require those mandates to be applied to local school districts, charters schools and Utah’s colleges and universities, but the statewould pick up the tab. He says 14 such mandates have been proposed during this legislative session alone.

“I have a real concern what impact the bills will have on small businesses,” Weiler says. “A concern that some small businesses will be forced to drop all health insurance, rather than fund the increased premiums caused by these 14 mandates.”

Lawmakers who support the bill say it would simply force the legislature to consider the actual cost of any proposed healthcare mandates.

But Senator Aaron Osmond says although he supports the idea that government should be held accountable for the cost, it’s better to consider each mandate individually.

“I believe each mandate has a unique circumstance that justifies or reinforces its discussion and feel more comfortable supporting that kind of an approach than this,” Osmond says.

One insurance mandate being considered in the House of Representatives would require insurers to cover autism treatments. Supporters of that bill say Weiler’s plan would effectively kill the mandate by making it too expensive for lawmakers to support. Senate Bill 138 passed out of the Senate on a 22 to 5 vote, and now moves to the House.