Utah Policy/KSL Insider Survey: Medicaid Expansion

Last week Utah lawmakers said they may have to wait until next January's legislative session to do something about Medicaid expansion. That's not too surprising to our "Political Insiders" panel.

We asked them what decision lawmakers would ultimately make. Half of the Republicans on our panel as well as half of our readers said lawmakers wouldn't be able to come up with a plan to help the thousands of Utahns who fall in the Medicaid coverage gap. 39% of the Democrats also thought legislators would get bogged down and wouldn't be able to make a final choice.

A little more than a quarter of the Democrats we asked are still holding out hope for Gov. Gary Herbert's "Healthy Utah" plan while none of the Republicans said that was a viable option anymore.

The so-called "gang of six" tasked with coming up with a solution have recently floated an idea to shift the burden of Medicaid away from the government, giving the responsibilities (and government money) to healthcare providers. Less than a quarter of our respondents think this is the solution lawmakers will eventually approve.


We also asked our panelists what solution they preferred regardless of the likelihood lawmakers would adopt the plan. Nearly half of Republicans said they favored Healthy Utah while an overwhelming number of Democrats want Utah to accept full Medicaid expansion. Almost half of our readers also favor full Medicaid expansion.


Selected anonymous comments:

"My fellow Republicans need to accept that passing Healthy Utah isn't supporting ObamaCare; it is simply making the best lemonade possible out of the rancid, rotting lemons that are the fruit of ObamaCare. The hundreds of millions of Utah tax dollars that are confiscated as a result of ObamaCare's new taxes simply aren't going to come back to the State any other way."

"They keep talking about the cost of these plans but have squandered away several years of aid paid for by the federal government. The wasted aid would have improved the health of thousands, perhaps making more people able to work and support themselves better. What a stupid, stupid legislature we have."
"Utah House will delay and delay hopes that Romney will win the Presidential 2016 election, and the Republicans will take over the Senate. It's the 2012 game plan, just four years later."
"They will continue to delay any implementation of Medicaid until after the 2016 legislative elections are over."
"Only a full expansion or equivalent (like Healthy Utah) returns the maximum "bang for our buck" by utilizing the 90% federal contribution. If the Gang of Six decides on a plan that covers less than 138% FPL, or has some enrollment or funding cap then we will automatically be ineligible for the 10% share, and will be bumped down to a 70/30 federal contribution. So less coverage, for more money?? The decision should be obvious! Healthy Utah or Full Medicaid Expansion! Anything else is a waste of taxpayer dollars and human lives."
"When will the Legislature learn to stop fighting Governor Herbert and start working with him? Healthy Utah should have been passed back in January. The legislators are just mad that they got caught flat footed on the whole issue."
"It is amazing to me that House leadership can't find a way to support and pass a well thought out plan like Healthy Utah or come up with a similar plan using the 90/10 match. Where is the leadership? Where is the statesmanship? They seem to be scared of their caucus. I wish for the days of Greg Curtis and Dave Clark, who could lead their caucus, not kowtow to them on important issues."
"The current ACA plan does not have a revenue source for the federal dollars spent on Medicaid expansion. Zero Utah taxes paid to the federal government are available for Healthy Utah. All these taxes are already committed elsewhere. In other words, the Healthy Utah federal dollars are 100% paid for by the next generation. Utah should choose a program that is paid for by current Utahns, not our grandchildren."
"House 'leadership' drove the State of Utah into the sand up to the axles. They have no clue how to dig out, and no one to blame but themselves. Maybe we'll thank them for it someday, but right now they look like keystone cops."
"I'm amazed at how poorly Governor Herbert has managed this. It's almost like he knows nothing about Utah politics."
"Lawmakers are proving that Rep. Jake Anderegg was prophetic in his insistence that doing nothing is always an option."
"Rep. Dunnigan's comment about having more flexibility under a Republican president may be telling. It looks like the House of Representatives may drag its feet until after the 2016 presidential election. That could push action until the 2017 legislative session."
"I think that House leadership is afraid of the overwhelming support for the Healthy Utah plan, and they're afraid that the Healthy Utah plan will work. They are playing politics with people's lives."
"Regretfully, their ideology, irrationality, and egos will prevail.The decision will be made not on what is best for people in need but with 'we know what's best' and 'no one from DC is going to tell us what to do' pioneer mentality. They just don't know when to quit fighting a losing battle."
"King V. Burwell is only more reason for the Utah Legislature to hold the line on Medicaid expansion. The Supreme Court's decision reinforces the federal government's disastrous health care takeover, and it is incumbent upon state lawmakers to ensure that Medicaid remains solvent. Otherwise, the quality of patient care will fall drastically, and taxpayers will be left holding the bag."
"Despite claims to the contrary, House leaders are worried that the Healthy Utah plan will be successful… just as the ACA has been in Utah… and they don't want to give credit to Gov. Herbert, or anything even remotely connected to Obamacare. There are no other reasons that adequately explains the indecision by the legislature."
"They will miss this deadline…and the next…and the next…and push it to the legislative session where they won't come to an agreement because 'it is an election year.'"
"Herbert is trying to write a check that he will not have to cover when he leaves office."
"Ostriches don't see the future horizon, and therefore with their head in the sand, they can describe individual grains, but not the whole landscape. Truly a Tragic Greek comedy, where we might laugh at the end, but we all have to live with the results."
"The governor's plan is conservative and we'll thought out. The House should have been on board from the beginning and they should be grateful the governor is providing them a second chance to get it right in a way that looks like they've made some meaningful difference."
"Utah Cares is a good step without stepping off a cliff. There are enough votes for Utah Cares. Two years shows there aren't enough votes for Healthy Utah."