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Senate to Consider “Healthy Utah” vs. “Vulnerable Utah”

Courtesy photo

A bill challenging Governor Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan is moving forward on Capitol Hill.

It’s been called “Frail Utah”, but the bill’s sponsor Republican Senator Allan Christensen said in committee that he felt that name had negative connotations. The retired dentist from Ogden is now calling it “Vulnerable Utah”.  The bill remains the same, though. It would provide health coverage to those under 100 percent of the poverty level who are also considered medically frail. Depending on who is included in that category, it’s between 12 and 20 percent of what’s known as the coverage gap in Utah.

“This bill does not close the gap,” Christensen said. “It narrows the gap. Should we be closing the gap? That’s a philosophical question that we have to ask ourselves. Is the state’s responsibility to provide everything to everyone? I say no.”

A handful of advocates spoke out against the bill, as did Republican Senator Brian Shiozawa. The Emergency Medicine Physician from Salt Lake City is running a competing bill which would support Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan, covering the gap up to 138 percent of the poverty level.

“If we’re going to get bang for the buck in terms of dollars spent and outcomes, this program that you’re proposing is woefully inadequate in comparison to Healthy Utah,” Shiozawa said.  

But Christensen’s “Vulnerable Utah” passed out of committee with a vote of 4 to 2. Shiozawa’s bill also passed out of committee last week. They both now move on to the full Senate for consideration.

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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