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Politics & Government

State Democrats Revive Call To Expand Medicaid

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Utah Democratic Party
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Democratic State Representative Rebecca Chavez Houck with Democratic Senator Gene Davis, House District 39 Candidate Paul Schulte and Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon.

This week marks the 6th anniversary of the Patient Bill of Rights, which guaranteed people with preexisting conditions could get health insurance. Utah Democrats used the occasion to again call on Utah Republicans, who make up the majority of the state legislature, to pass full Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid expansion is a fundamental piece of President Obama’s signature healthcare law. So far, 32 states have adopted Medicaid expansion. Utah is one of 19 states that have not. Democratic State Representative Rebecca Chavez Houck said during a press conference Monday, the Affordable Care Act is successful, and would be more successful if Utah had a substantial Medicaid expansion plan.

“At the end of the day, what I reflect upon are the people that are no longer here because of the decisions we refused to make because of the lack of political will that we had to accept full Medicaid expansion and help others in our community who so desperately need it,” Chavez Houck said.

Utah lawmakers passed an expansion plan this year that was estimated to cover 16,000 of the neediest people in the state. It was later projected to cover only 9 to 11,000 people.

“What that says if we’re paying attention is that Medicaid expansion can be a completely open-ended number in terms of its cost,” said Utah Republican House Speaker Greg Hughes.

He said the law Utah passed is measured and more importantly, the state can afford it.

“So if you get it wrong, you have to take it from other health and human services appropriations or public ed or higher ed,” he said.

The federal government still must approve Utah’s plan before it can be implemented. Public comment on the plan ended last week. 

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