Utah congressmen disappointed in House health care vote

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SALT LAKE CITY -- For 219 Democrats and one Republican, Saturday night was a victory. For Utah representatives, it was a crushing defeat.

"I'm just so disappointed," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

Chaffetz has been fighting this bill all along. He said he voted "no" because the bill will increase taxes for Utahns, cut Medicare for seniors and give the federal government control of health care.

"It's an absolute mess. This is a bill that was slammed through in record time; passed late on Saturday night. It's more than 2,000 pages, and not everybody understands what's in the bill," Chaffetz said.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill would guarantee coverage for 96 percent of Americans. It would also restrict insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition. Total cost: $1.2 trillion.

"I'm glad that all three members of the Utah delegation voted ‘no.' We had 39 Democrats vote ‘no,'" Chaffetz said.

One of those Democrats was Utah Rep. Jim Matheson. He told us on Friday he was open to reform, but this bill was simply too expensive.

"I'm all about solving problems. It doesn't matter if it's a Democratic idea or a Republican idea, I just want to make sure we can address the issue in the right way," Matheson said.

Rep. Rob Bishop certainly didn't think this piece of legislation was the right way. He sent KSL News a statement after the bill passed, saying: "The formation of 111 new bureaucracies will transfer the power from individuals to Washington bureaucrats. Americans will no longer control their health care future."

"I think Americans want us to get it right," Chaffetz said, "not get it done quickly."

Before the final vote, conservatives from both parties passed provisions that would toughen up restrictions on abortion coverage in insurance policies.

If the bill passes, it will:

  • require all Americans to get health insurance
  • require most large businesses to offer a plan to employees
  • prohibit denial based on pre-existing conditions
  • extend coverage to an estimated 96 percent of Americans
  • bar the use of federal funds for abortions
  • create a "public option"

The total cost for this plan is $1.2 trillion, which would be paid for with a surtax on couples making more than $1 million and cuts to the growth of Medicare.

The Senate now has to vote on its version of the bill, which is not expected until at least December.

E-mail: ngonzales@ksl.com

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