Shurtleff targets Bennett over health care bill

By Chris Rizo | Oct 2, 2009

Mark Shurtleff (R)

Bob Bennett (R)

SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline)-Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on Friday hammered U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, his fellow Utah Republican, for sponsoring health care legislation that will cost American jobs.

Shurtleff, who is running for the Senate seat held by Bennett, said in a statement that the bill his primary opponent co-sponsored with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., would require employers to pay a portion of their employees' health benefits.

The plan would also require government approval of insurance plans and the premiums the insurance companies may charge.

Shurtleff noted that the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program's BlueCross BlueShield Plan, which is the minimal standard for a government-approved insurance plan in Bennett's bill, had an estimated annual premium of $4,282 in 2007 for individual coverage.

Shurtleff said with unemployment at a 26-year high, now is not the time to jeopardize jobs.

"Bob Bennett's bill is completely backwards," Shurtleff said. "The nation has a 9.8 percent jobless rate and he wants to create a tax disincentive for employers to create more jobs. It's the wrong approach at the worst time."

He noted that according to the Lewin Group, a Washington-based think tank specializing in health issues, the Internal Revenue would have to expand 25 percent to administer health care insurance subsidies.

"In his first campaign Bob Bennett wanted to reduce the size of the IRS, now he wants to grow it by 25 percent," Shurtleff quipped. "I guess 18 years in D.C. has changed his perspective."

For his part, Shurtleff has called for insurance reforms that allow individuals and small businesses to fully claim the same tax deductions large corporations currently enjoy, remove limitations on health savings accounts, limit malpractice damage awards and allow for communities and groups to unite in associated health plans.

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