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Some farm workers to get health insurance under bill

Workers on large and midsize farms in Utah would get health-insurance benefits under a bill endorsed by a House committee.

The measure, which also has the endorsement of the Utah Farm Bureau, would require farms with payrolls of more than $8,000 to obtain health and liability insurance for their employees.But those speaking against HB280 told members of the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Standing Committee last week that the bill wouldn't do enough.

"It still exempts out half the farms in the state," said David Gessel of the Utah Association of HealthCare Providers. "Once a year a major farm accident can run up to $1 million in medical costs. . . . We need to look at how many this will cover and maybe lower the threshold."

The bill would require farms with annual payrolls of more than $8,000 but less than $50,000 to purchase a minimum of $300,000 in liability insurance and $5,000 in health insurance either through the private market or the state Workers Compensation Fund.

Operations with annual payrolls of $50,000 or more must purchase state Workers Compensation insurance.

Sponsoring Rep. Bill Wright, R-Elberta, said farms with payrolls of less than $8,000 generally don't need insurance because they are run by those who farm as a hobby and not a full-time job.