The Utah Senate made quick work of their plan allowing the governor to seek a block grant from the federal government in order to give healthcare coverage to poorer Utahns.

 

Sen. Brian Shiozawa (R-Cottonwood Heights) changed SB 251 to accept some Medicaid expansion money from the federal government in order to include the Governor’s “Healthy Utah” pilot program.

Sen. Gene Davis (D-Salt Lake City) tried to hijack Shiozawa’s bill, attempting to replace it with his plan for full Medicaid expansion that was killed in a Senate committee last week. That attempt was beaten back by the GOP controlled body.

“This is our money,” Davis scolded his colleagues. “We keep trying to come up with these little gimmicks to get this crafted our way. We can ask for waivers, but the bottom line is you either cover everyone or you don’t get it. This takes care of it with no game playing.”

Sen. Jim Dabakis (D-Salt Lake City) wondered why Utah is leaving money that’s already being paid by taxpayers on the table.

“If we were a board of directors, I would find it very difficult to not approve this,” he said. “The Governor’s plan will require waivers, which will take months if they even get through. Let’s get past ideology. It’s foolhardy to not take this money.”

Sen. Daniel Thatcher (R-West Valley) said the proposal was the best path among three bad options.

“There are no options I consider good in this arena,” said Thatcher. “This is the one bad option I hate the least.”

The proposal passed out of the Senate on a 19-6 vote and now heads to the House.