Healthcare

Utah Republicans Move to Override Their Own Constituents

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The citizens of Utah voted to participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with no strings attached during the November elections, but Republicans in the state legislature are trying to override the will of their own voters.

State lawmakers are advancing legislation that will attach several strings to Medicaid expansion that will make it far less expansive than voters intended.

The Utah Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would toss out a grassroots-driven, voter-backed ballot initiative to offer Medicaid benefits to any Utahn earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level (about $16,000 a year for a single person), paid for by raising the sales tax on certain goods from 4.7 percent to 4.85 percent.

The legislation instead would expand Medicaid to fewer people, enable Utah to receive less federal money for the program and impose limitations on benefits, including work requirements. [...]

According to a Salt Lake Tribune analysis of the vote Wednesday, 10 Republican senators representing districts where a majority voted in favor of the expansion are supporting the bill to modify it, including the legislation’s main sponsor, Sen. Allen Christensen.

If the Republican-controlled state legislature ultimately passes this legislation, it's possible the state will never expand its Medicaid program.

Under current law, there's nothing preventing the state from participating in Medicaid expansion as the voters intended. The Trump regime does not have the authority to say a state cannot participate. It is possible, however, that the federal government could reject the curtailed program the state legislature is advancing. And in that case, the state won't participate in Medicaid expansion.

Paying for the state's relatively small share of expansion (the federal government still covers over 90 percent of the cost) by raising the state's sales tax by just 0.15 percent is such a minuscule cost, the only reason one could have for opposing full Medicaid expansion is if you simply don't believe people should have access to health care.

  • muselet

    If a D-controlled legislature anywhere in the country mucked around with a voter-approved ballot initiative in this sort of way, we’d never hear an end to the outraged shrieking from the Right (I know this because every time a D dares to propose a change to Proposition 13 here in California—even one that affects only a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of one percent of property owners—the Right goes absolutely mad).

    As long as the Rs don’t get punished for doing this sort of thing by losing elections, they’ll keep doing them.

    –alopecia

  • katanahamon

    They allowed the Mormon church to build facilities across the street from schools, and allow the children time to go across the street for worship/brainwashing. It’s a crazy place. Plenty of Dems in Salt Lake City, fewer in the rural areas. It can be beautiful, but in the twenty years I’ve lived here the air quality has steadily declined, snowfall has declined which we depend on for water, and the population has of course increased. They continue to build out into desert like plains as you can’t build further up the mountains in the city, and put grass sod yards in every time. We could easily reach the point where we simply run out of water. The whole Mormon thing is ludicrous, yet the young ones that come to your door are as smug as ever. Smugness will fade when we have to bury our poo in our backyards when there’s no water. And yes..the repub controlled state is ridiculous all the more so due to the religious influence. How can people be logical when your starting point is having to accept that they believe utterly ridiculous tripe?

    Of course, most of them don’t. They just buy into the whole pyramid scheme of ascending the church hierarchy through ridiculous requirements including an enforced ten percent tithe. A ridiculous state in an ever increasingly ridiculous country.

  • Republicans don’t believe in Democracy. End of story.