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SALT LAKE CITY - In a letter sent today, Governor Gary R. Herbert urged the federal government to recognize Utah's successful health exchange and prevent "undue expansions of federal authority over states."

The letter to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was also signed by state Senate President Michael Waddoups and Speaker of the House David Clark.

"As state leaders who are heavily invested in the health and well-being of our residents, we hope that you and the other HHS officials will continue to work closely with us and with all states as partners as we strive to improve the health care system for all Americans," the letter states.

The letter accompanies an official response to a request for comments from the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for creating regulations for state-based exchanges under the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As one of only two states with a working health exchange, Utah continues to demand that its model not be sacrificed through the implementation of "one-size-fits-all" federal rules.

"State authority and flexibility needs to be preeminent when implementing federal health reform ... The best way to make exchanges operational throughout the nation is by encouraging each state to develop the approach that best meets its objectives and responds to its unique demographic and economic circumstances," the letter states.

The Utah Health Exchange is a consumer-based approach to the purchase of health insurance that provides flexibility and choice to Utah employees, while allowing employers to control their healthcare costs. More information is available online at exchange.utah.gov.

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