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Shurtleff questions federal health plan legislation

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff cautions Carbon County residents that a proposed law creating a federal association health plan could promote fraud.

Shurtleff's concerns are based on the results of a recently released Georgetown University study.

"These health plans may sound good on the surface, but this study clearly shows they could threaten health insurance benefits for millions of Americans," said Shurtleff.

Georgetown University Assistant Research Professor Mila Kofman, J.D. said the consequences from the legislation are predictable: bankruptcy, delayed or foregone medical care and loss of coverage for small businesses and workers.

Kofman's paper presents three major conclusions:

• Americans would be vulnerable because the bill would prohibit states from protecting consumers enrolled in AHPs.

•The federal regulatory structure will expose consumers to more fraud and unpaid medical bills.

•The legislation will create widespread confusion over who has regulatory authority and which rules apply.

Between 2000 and 2002, state investigators across the country shut down 41 illegal operations selling coverage while the U.S. Department of Labor shut down three operations, indicated the Utah attorney general.

"Without the presence of strong oversight in Utah, these fraudulent insurers will only grow," emphasized Shurtleff.

A vote on the legislation (HR525/S. 406) is expected on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of July, concluded the Utah attorney general

Residents with Internet access may review a copy of Kofmann's report by visitng

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