Expanding Medicaid has long been a controversial subject in Utah. But a new poll shows a majority of Utahns support greater access to low-income health insurance under an upcoming citizen ballot initiative.
According to the new poll, 59 percent of Utahns support full Medicaid expansion. It was conducted by Dan Jones and Associates for the website UtahPolicy.com. The poll was based on the Utah Decides Healthcare ballot initiative. Rylee Curtis is their campaign manager.
"I’m not surprised but I’m very excited about the poll numbers that came out today," Curtis says.
Most of those who supported increasing Medicaid coverage in the poll identified as Democrats and independents though some Republican voters also favored expanding health coverage.
The initiative would expand Medicaid to an estimated 100,000 individuals most of whom are in the coverage gap -- those who make too much money to qualify under current income limits but don’t make enough to afford regular health insurance. Funding to pay for it would come from a state tax on non-food items.
"So, is it worth the three cents on every $20 on non-food items that we’re proposing to make sure that these folks have access to comprehensive, affordable healthcare coverage?" she says.
Critics who oppose Medicaid expansion say healthcare costs would dwarf the tax set out to pay for them, and lead to money siphoned off other parts of the state budget.
If organizers get the required 113,143 signatures before mid April, the decision will officially be put to voters next year.