Medicaid Expansion To Join Growing Field Of Citizen-Led Ballot Initiatives
At least four ballot initiatives are expected to go before voters next year - and there might soon be a fifth.
A new group called Utah Decides is preparing to launch a ballot initiative next week to expand Medicaid in the state.
About 30 states have expanded the federal program since the passing of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, but Utah is one of the 19 states that hasn’t.
Jason Stephenson, a spokesman for Utah Health Policy Project, one of the backers of the initiative, says it’s time to change that.
“What happened is that Utah has come close in previous years to expanding Medicaid - to closing the coverage gap that about 80,000 Utahns are stuck in - but we haven’t completed the deal,” he says.
The initiative would expand health coverage to Utahns with incomes less than about $16,600 a year for individuals, or roughly $34,000 for a family of four.
It also proposes a bump in the state sales tax from 4.7 percent to 4.8 to pay for it.
The Utah Legislature has rejected several attempts to expand Medicaid in the past, citing cost concerns. The state has instead opted for a more narrow waiver for some low-income individuals.
The initiative will join a crowded group of other citizen-led efforts. Ballot measures that are already underway for 2018 include medical marijuana legalization, improved education funding, a direct primary system and bipartisan redistricting.