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Utah Legislature: Anti-federal health care measure takes stately tone

SALT LAKE CITY — On a day of a special summit between President Barack Obama and Republican opponents to make nice and maybe make do over health care reform, a resolution to make Congress stay the heck out Utah's reform efforts effectively cleared its final legislative hurdle.

The Senate voted 17-6 Thursday afternoon in favor of HCR8, a resolution that unlike other anti-federal government measures this year goes to the trouble to explain why Washington best not stand in the way of Utah's or any state's reform efforts.

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, Senate sponsor of the resolution, took almost a conciliatory tone in explaining that Utah could assure itself as a leader in dealing with what's wrong with health care, but not if it's precluded by "a federal solution to a state problem."

Three Senate Democrats chimed in, suggesting there might be problems that take national proportions and would be better handled if not solely then through partnering with Washington, said Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake.

HCR8's senatorial, even-tempered message is in stark contrast to other bills and resolutions that paint the federal government's health care plans as socialized medicine that will make the land of the free the home of the taxed.

Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake, said she understood the motivation for the bill, but that along with inviting the federal government to stay out of the way, the measure could invite collaboration, which is what reform health care is ultimately going to take.

Collaboration can occur, even in the darkest corners of divisive issues.

A six-hour Bipartisan Health Care Summit in Washington on Thursday showed agreement is possible, at least on some general health care reform issues.

"It was heartening to see the fair amount of agreement that does exist between the two parties, especially around the need to get started on health reforms," said Judi Hilman, executive director of the Utah Health Policy Project.

Nearly all summit participants relayed a tragic story they had heard from one of their constituents, "stories (www.healthpolicyproject.org/Storybank.html) we hear every day in Utah from our families and neighbors." Hilman said. "Each of us, including those of us who are insured, stand to gain from comprehensive health reforms."

e-mail: jthalman@desnews.com