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Hatch, Shurtleff: National health care law hurts Utah businesses

By KSL.com | Posted - Mar 23rd, 2011 @ 6:44pm



SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Senator Orin Hatch and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff say the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, enacted one year ago today, is hurting Utah businesses.

The two Utahns have been trying to change the law since President Obama signed it. They believe health care should be handled by individual states. They contend that Obama's national health care plan costs too much, spends too much, and creates too many taxes for Utahns.


There are all kinds of other expenses that they didn't count on and didn't think would happen. I have to tell you they are running our country right now into the ground.

–Sen. Orrin Hatch


Hatch said Wednesday that the health care plan has created an additional $118 billion in spending as a result of unfunded state mandates. He also says it's created higher premiums, fewer jobs, and new taxes -- especially for small businesses.

"There are all kinds of other expenses that they didn't count on and didn't think would happen," Hatch said. "I have to tell you they are running our country right now into the ground. What's happening is they're going to play some Washington bureaucrat between you and your doctors."

The act doesn't fully go into affect until 2014, but Hatch and Shurtleff say by then a lot of damage will have been done to small businesses.

One mandate in the bill requires all companies to issue a 1099 form to any individual or corporation that buys more than $600 in goods or services from a business. Utah Metal Works owner Mark Lewon says that puts provisions on his company that make it harder to be profitable.

"It puts burdens on us, as a company, because I would have to hire people to just handle that in December and January every year. It does nothing for our bottom line. It doesn't help us at all," he said.

But for 20-year-old Derek Chang, a pre-med student at the University of Utah, Obamacare means he can stay on his parents' health care plan while he's an undergrad.


I see a lot of people struggling with their medical conditions, and unable to pay for it and they have to go to a free clinic. So I believe that what Obama is doing is actually a good thing.

–Derek Chang, UofU student


He doesn't have any health worries right now. But he's thankful for the new law.

“I see a lot of people struggling with their medical conditions, and unable to pay for it and they have to go to a free clinic. So I believe that what Obama is doing is actually a good thing,” Chang said.

Judi Hilman of the Utah Health Policy Project said she is constantly fighting to educate people about what the bill does, and what it doesn’t do.

Among the the myths about Obamacare, Hilman says, is the idea that it will institute so called "death panels," that it’s a government takeover, and that it will add to the deficit.

She said taxpayers already shell out big bucks because everyone who is taken to the emergency room gets treatment regardless of their ability to pay.

“That’s a mandate already,” Hilman said. “So what we’re trying to do is shift that cost so it’s a little more cost effective. We’re paying for health care on the front end, and we’re all sharing that responsibility.”

Hatch and Shurtleff say requiring health care for everyone is unconstitutional. Shurtleff joined 25 other attorneys general last year in a lawsuit filed against the federal government in Florida. A Florida judge ruled the law unconstitutional in January but stayed his ruling after an appeal was filed earlier this month by the Obama administration.

It is expected the issue will wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Story written with contributions from Shara Park and Richard Piatt.

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