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Dozens Turn Out to Support Funding of Healthy Utah Medicaid Expansion Plan

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Brian Grimmett
Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Murray, presents his bill before the Social Services Sub-Appropriation Committee

Legislators tasked with prioritizing social service budget items discussed two bills Wednesday that take different approaches on filling Utah’s Medicaid gap.

While the committee took no official action, they did discuss some of the pros and cons for both Sen. Allen Christensen’s SB153 and Sen. Brian Shiozawa’sSB164. Christensen’s bill would only expand the Medicaid program to those who fall below 100% of the federal poverty rate and are considered “Medically Frail”.

“It does not cover everyone, but at the same time we’re expanding the charity care at the bottom and we are narrowing the gap," he says. "We are not attempting to cover all of it. On the other hand we’ll have some dollars left over that we can give to many of the other appropriation requestors.”

Shiozawa’s bill, essentially is the Governor’s Healthy Utah plan.  It would cost the state more money than Christensen’s plan, but it would also pull in significantly more federal money and help more than 100 thousand more people get some kind of health insurance.

The committee also heard from more than 20 people who spoke in favor of Shiozawa’s bill. Dr. Jay Jacobsen was one of several medical professionals who testified. He says preventative care is always better and that’s hard to get when you don’t have insurance.

“Providing access to care and prevention for as many people as possible is the best and most efficient way to maintain and improve health, productivity and insure a safe society,” he says.

Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser also recently said his preference is a plan like Healthy Utah, but at this point he’s trying to keep an open mind. 

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