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Few Utahns Know about Governor’s Plan to Deliver Healthcare to the Poor

A new pollshows that Utahns don’t know very much about Governor Gary Herbert’s plan to deliver health insurance to low-income citizens. But when they learn more, they tend to support it. KUER’s Andrea Smardon took to the streets to see for herself what Utahns know and don’t know about healthcare decisions facing state lawmakers. 

Smardon started out at City Creek Mall food court, talking to people on their lunch hour. Most of them had jobs and health insurance. A few had heard of the decision facing the state of whether or not to expand Medicaid to provide health coverage for low-income citizens. But not one had heard of Governor Gary Herbert’s alternative plan to funnel those Medicaid dollars into the private insurance market.

Our unscientific survey backs up a poll conducted by Dan Jones and Associates for The poll found that 56% of Utahns have not yet heard of Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan, but when they find out what the program does, 67% support it.  Meanwhile, another poll commissioned by the conservative think tank the Sutherland Institute, asked different questions and got different results. The survey found that after hearing specific details, Utah voters are reluctant to favor any Medicaid expansion proposals currently being considered by Governor Herbert and the state legislature.   

Over at the 4th Street Clinic, where the homeless go to get free healthcare, the majority there had not heard of the Governor’ plan either. But they’re clear on one thing – they want better access to healthcare. One woman who did not give her name says she has about 100 thousand dollars in medical debt. She says she doesn’t know anything about the discussions going on at the state Capitol, but she needs insurance, and it’s not getting any easier to get.

“They’re supposed to be having the Obamacare. You know what? I don’t know where you go to sign up for it. When you ask about it, you get left with a blank,” she said.  

Governor Gary Herbert says he believes he will get approval from the Obama administration for his Healthy Utah Plan by the end of the month. Then it will be up to state legislators to decide if they support it. They might ask themselves - do their constituents support it? Not clear at this time, since most appear to know little about it.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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