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Senator Shiozawa Reopens Discussion On Medicaid Expansion

Erik Neumann
Senator Brian Shiozawa

On Sunday, Republican Senator and ER doctor, Brian Shiozawa published an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune. In it, he called for the state legislature to revisit an issue he’s been fighting for for years: an expansion of Medicaid to Utah’s uninsured residents.

According to Shiozawa, with a new president coming into office and the upcoming legislative session in January, now is the time to deal with the gap in Medicaid coverage for Utah’s most vulnerable.

“If we have to target one area in the legislature. This is the area that I would say is the important thing we need to look at this year,” Shiozawa said.

Finding a way to get healthcare for the estimated 74,000 Utahns in the so-called Medicaid gap, is something that Shiozawa has labored over for years. From supporting Governor Herbert’s 2015 Healthy Utah, to the subsequent healthcare provider tax, Shiozawa has focused on getting health coverage for Utahns who make less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. But those plans were rejected by his Republican colleagues in the Utah House.

Now, he’s trying to lay the groundwork for the next legislative session.

“My intention this next session is to either support another version of Healthy Utah, which is essentially a Medicaid expansion, and if that doesn’t come forth from the Governor’s office, to start doing something independently of the Governor, with the Governor’s support,” he said.

Shiozawa, who is a Republican, agrees with some things Donald Trump has said about the Affordable Care Act. In particular, that rising insurance rates under the Obama administration’s tenure have become unsustainable. But, in this unusual election year, healthcare is one issue that might be able to cross party lines.

“Even if Donald Trump wins, Mike Pence, his Vice President expanded Medicaid in Indiana where he’s the Governor,” Shiozawa said.  

No matter who wins the election, Shiozawa says, there’s reason to be optimistic.

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