Utah Spends Far More on Tax Breaks for Business than it Would on Medicaid Expansion

A new study says Utah stands to lose nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in federal money if the state opts out of Medicaid expansion.

The study from the Commonwealth Fund looked at federal money paid to states for the Medicaid expansion through 2022 compared to how much states get from the federal government for highway funds and from defense contracts. Those Medicaid expansion dollars ($784 million) more than double highway transportation money ($414 million), and are about 24% of the money Utah gets from federal defense procurement contracts ($3.2 billion).

Utah would stand to lose $719 million from the feds if the state chooses to not expand Medicare. In 2022, states would have to put up some money for the expansion, but the federal government would still cover 90% of the added cost. The amount of money Utah would have to put up is 0.6% the general tax revenue collected from the state.

Additionally, the study compared how much money each state would have to spend on Medicaid expansion in 2022 with how much those states spend in tax incentives to attract private businesses. Utah’s Medicaid share in 2022 would be $88 million. The state currently spends about 3-times that amount ($256 million) to lure private businesses to the state.

“States often seek to increase their share of federal funds, lobbying for military bases, procurement contracts, and highway funds. Federal funding provides direct benefits and bolsters local economies. The opportunity to participate in the Medicaid Expansion has potentially important benefits to states. In most states, for example, the increase in federal funding in 2022 from participating in the Medicaid expansion is roughly equivalent to one-quarter of the total value of federal procurements for that year and more than twice as much as all federal funding for highways.”