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Doctors Oppose “Provider Tax” to Pay for Utah Medicaid Expansion

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Utah doctors are objecting to the idea that they should help pay for the cost of expanding Medicaid to low-income citizens. Some call it a provider tax, and it’s one of the ideas being considered by state GOP lawmakers.

If Utah lawmakers can agree on a plan to expand Medicaid, the federal government would pay for 90 percent of the costs. But it’s the remaining 10 percent that the Republican leaders drafting that plan are concerned about. Among the proposals is to increase the licensing fees for physicians. Sean Mulvihill is CEO of the University of Utah Medical Group.

“I personally feel that it’s bad public policy to create a provider tax on individuals to support something that is a societal good or a state good,” Mulvihill says.

The Utah Medical Association is opposed to the idea, says CEO Michelle McOmber.

“If this is a community benefit, which we do believe it is a community benefit - it increases the health of the citizens of Utah - then we ought to find a solution that involves the whole community when it comes to paying for it,” McOmber says.  

Speaking to KUER on a legislative bus tour in Southern Utah, House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan says he’s heard from many doctors in the last few days.

“Some of the comment I’ve heard from doctors is, why are you picking on just us? Well, we’re not. There’s plenty of shared pain to go around,” Dunnigan says.

He says there are 16 different classes of healthcare providers who would be asked to pay, including hospitals, surgical centers, ambulances, therapists, and pharmacies. Altogether, Dunnigan says he and his colleagues in the Gang of 6 would like to see healthcare providers cover about two-thirds of the expansion costs. They’re still working on the proposal, but he expects the issue will be decided in a possible special legislative session this year.

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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