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To hear Gov. Mike Leavitt tell it, certain aspects of national health-care reform are a devil driving down the highway headed for a snow-bank.

Leavitt's analogies came Friday night during a live national question-and-answer session on C-SPAN where he defended some aspects of President Clinton's health-care plan and attacked others.During one cliche-ridden segment, he agreed the "devil is in the detail of the (national) plan," and that giving the states flexibility to implement their own plans is "where the rubber meets the road." He added, though, that Utah does not want to move so fast that "we get so far into the snowbank we can't move either way."

In fielding questions from viewers across the United States, Leavitt reiterated time and again that the key to health-care reform is giving the states flexibility to implement their own plans and then learning from each other's mistakes.

"A big concern I have is the speed it will take us into a bigger federal mechanism," he said. "The natural inclination of Congress is to capture authority. Our greatest concern is an unrealistic finance package, that it will become the mother of all unfunded mandates."

Federal mandates to the states have already pushed many states to the brink of insolvency, he said. And it would not be unrealistic to expect Congress to avoid raising taxes for health-care reform by forcing the states to pay for reforms.

Leavitt said Utah is moving at a "reasonable and rational" pace on health-care reform that will guarantee insurability for all Utahns. Currently, 89 percent of Utahns are insured, he said, a number he would like to raise to 94 percent over the next few years.

Leavitt promised that Utah lawmakers will address health care within the first weeks of the 1994 Legislature.