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Republicans' Medicaid Expansion Plan Would Cost Nearly $72M In First Two Years

Austen Diamond for KUER

The Medicaid expansion plan Republican legislators are working on as an alternative to voter-approved Proposition 3 could cost the state as much as $71.8 million in its first 18 months, according to a new legislative fiscal analysis.

Bill sponsor Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, said he doesn’t think costs will go quite that high. Either way, he said, his bill is meant to save “hundreds of millions” of dollars in the long run.


“Proposition 3 did not provide sufficient money to last past about one year,” Christensen said. “Initially, (S.B. 96) will cost the state more money, but in the long run we will be saving hundreds of millions of dollars.”


The fiscal note was published Saturday morning along with a new version of the bill, which Christensen said the Senate plans to vote on Monday morning.


“There’s a lot of money we’ve put in there – tens of millions of dollars – just in case we get left waiting” for federal approval on waivers, Christensen said.


“This is the opposite of what Utahns voted for,” said Andrew Roberts, spokesman for Utah Decides Healthcare, which was behind Proposition 3.


The Republican proposal “also blows a $70 million hole in our state budget,” Roberts said. “This devastating new admission should put an end to all attempts to repeal the voter-approved law.”


Estimates from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget projected sales tax revenue from the voter-approved initiative could fall about $65 million short by 2024.


Christensen said Republican leaders are still looking to expand Medicaid in order to give all Utahns “some type of coverage,” with budget “safeguards,” including enrollment caps at 100 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $12,000 per year for an individual.


Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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