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Frail Utah Bill Fails to Pass in the Senate

Brian Grimmett

A partial Medicaid expansion plan that would provide healthcare coverage to Utah’s most vulnerable population failed to pass the senate floor on Thursday.

Senate Bill 153, sponsored by Republican Senator Allen Christensen would extend access to Medicaid to about 16,000 Utahns who aren’t currently eligible. This includes people who are below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, considered medically frail and vulnerable to becoming disabled.

GOP House Speaker Greg Hughes says he doesn’t have support in the House for the alternative “Healthy Utah” bill which would serve nearly 150,000 Utahns. But Senator Christensen hoped his SB 153 would keep negotiations on Medicaid expansion moving forward.

“I would like to give the most needy people here some help,” Christensen said. “I would like to have some dollars left over to help some of the other really truly needy people.”

Republican Senator Brian Shiozawa sponsored the “Healthy Utah” bill, which he argued already has support from the broader community.

“So given all of that and the momentum that’s going forward, tell me again why we need 153 if we can negotiate down to that position already?” Shiozawa said.

Christensen’s bill, SB 153 failed on a 9 to 17 vote in the Senate. Shiozawa’s bill passed the Senate recently, but House leaders say they won’t bring it to the floor in that chamber. It now seems unlikely that any Medicaid expansion plan will be passed by the legislature before the general session ends in less than two weeks.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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