The GOP’s crusade to scale back Utah’s Medicaid expansion puts coverage for thousands of people at risk.
Utah voters decided to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in November. But the Republican legislature is scaling back the voter-approved plan.
The Republican legislature has passed legislation that would, in effect, replace the voter-approved Medicaid expansion with a more limited version that would actually cover fewer people while spending more money in the first few years. The bill passed both chambers with a two-thirds majority. It now heads to Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, who is expected to sign it.
GOP lawmakers are making a big bet: that they will be the first state to receive approval from the Trump administration for a partial Medicaid expansion. Originally, the Senate-passed legislation stipulated the entire expansion would have been repealed if the feds rejected Utah’s plan, reversing the will of the voters completely. But the state House, facing intense pressure, changed the bill at the last minute so if the Trump administration does reject partial expansion, the full Medicaid expansion as originally approved by voters would take effect instead.
Expansion supporters have still condemned Republicans for needlessly interceding to institute a scaled-back version of expansion, one will come at a higher initial cost to the state, after Utahns voted decisively just three months ago to expand Medicaid and extend health coverage to tens of thousands of vulnerable people.
“The legislature is trampling on the clear will of voters,” Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of the Fairness Project, which helped push the ballot referendum, said in a statement.
Voters approved full Medicaid expansion. Republicans only want to go partway.
The ballot measure approved by the