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Medicaid Battle Looming

Dan Bammes

  A battle could be shaping up in the Utah House of Representatives over a bill that would stop the state from expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. 

House Bill 391 would simply forbid the state from going along with the expansion of Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for the poor.  At a news conference today, supporters like Republican Representative Dana Layton of Orem argued they don’t need to wait for Governor Gary Herbert to make a decision.

“It is not an executive decision," Layton told a news conference on Friday.  "It’s a spending decision.  And therefore, as a legislature, we have the responsibility and the duty to weigh in on this.”

Governor Gary Herbert has urged legislators to wait for a study from the state health department on the costs and benefits of expanding Medicaid.  That sounds like a good idea to Matt Slonaker with the Utah Health Policy Project.

“It really tells us here in Utah specifically what might be best to do," Slonaker tells KUER.  "Without that study, I just don’t think it’s the right time to say no.”

The bill is likely to come up for a vote on the House floor early next week.  There is opposition in both parties, but both sides say it’s likely to pass.

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