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Healthy Utah Supporters Not Admitting Defeat Yet

Andrea Smardon
Republican Senator Brian Shiozawa speaks to demonstrators at the Healthy Utah rally at the capitol. (March 5, 2015)

Those in favor of the Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan have not admitted defeat, even though the bill supporting that plan was voted down by a House committee Wednesday night.

Demonstrators filled the rotunda of the Utah Capitol and directed their voices at the House Chamber, cheering “Give us Healthy Utah!”

Lawmakers came out to speak to the crowd, encouraging them to keep up the pressure. The House is not expected to debate Senate Bill 164, because it was voted down in committee this week. But Governor Gary Herbert says his plan is not dead, and he will continue to push for a better alternative to Medicaid expansion.

“The fight goes on,” Herbert says. “There may be other ways to do it. Certainly we want to work with the legislature. I expect we’ll be talking to the Senate, see what their thoughts are.”

Republican Senator Brian Shiozawa is sponsor of the Healthy Utah bill and an emergency room physician. He says there are still options moving forward.

“Compromise is possible,” Shiozawa says. “What we want to do is come up with something good for the patients.”

Shiozawa says it’s possible that a more limited coverage plan sponsored by House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan could be merged with the Healthy Utah Plan. Dunnigan’s bill, called Utah Cares, is scheduled to come to the House floor later this week. Governor Herbert told reporters that he’s not opposed to combining the plans. He says he would like to see his plan implemented for the first two years using all the federal dollars available, with the option to fall back to a downsized plan after that.

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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