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Health Advocates Slam House Rejection of Medicaid Expansion

Utah Republicans on Tuesday rejected Medicaid expansion for the second time. Credit: peopleimages/iStock
Utah Republicans on Tuesday rejected Medicaid expansion for the second time. Credit: peopleimages/iStock
October 14, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY - Health-care advocates in Utah are slamming the decision by state House Republicans to again reject Medicaid expansion.

The majority caucus in the state Legislature on Tuesday rejected the Utah Access Plus plan that was crafted by six of its own leaders. The plan would have closed the so-called coverage gap for people such as Stacy Stanford, who makes too much to get Medicaid but too little to afford coverage on the federal exchange.

"There are 63,000 people like me," she said. "Many of them also have physical and mental health challenges, and so the Utah Legislature needs to come up with something to cover all of the people who are stuck with no options like myself."

Utah House Republicans rejected Gov. Gary Herbert's Healthy Utah plan in the last legislative session. This latest plan would have expanded Medicaid by using federal dollars via the Affordable Care Act to help families buy insurance on the open market. Republicans cited cost as a major concern, saying demand for health care could outstrip available funds when the state would have to start kicking in 10 percent of the cost of the expansion.

RyLee Curtis, senior health policy analyst for the Utah Health Policy Project, said her group will keep this issue front and center.

"This issue isn't going away," she said. "Just because they don't support the bill does not mean that these people in the coverage gap, that their illness goes away. So we need to continue to fight for this."

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - UT