Salt Lake City – By further delaying their own self-imposed deadline, Speaker Hughes and Representative Dunnigan have again revealed their disdain for those less fortunate among us who would benefit from Medicaid expansion, whether pursuant to the Governor’s Healthy Utah plan or otherwise. Medicaid expansion has been on the table since the original passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Since that time, other states have expanded Medicaid and have used Utah tax dollars to do so while the legislature has sat on its hands.
In response to legislative concerns, Governor Herbert worked to develop a Utah solution and proposed the Healthy Utah plan. Despite overwhelming public support and economic evidence of the benefit of expansion, Medicaid expansion was deferred in both the 2014 and 2015 legislative sessions. Following the 2015 legislative session, the “Gang of Six” continued the unnecessary delays with a trip to Washington, D.C. to discuss the matter with Secretary Burwell and imposed a July 1st deadline to reach a compromise. Then Speaker Hughes used the ACA’s second trip to the United States Supreme Court to further deflect real action on Healthy Utah. Now, even after further extending the deadline to July 31st and the Supreme Court ruling upholding key provisions of the ACA, the House leadership is delaying yet again, even suggesting that nothing will happen until the 2016 legislative session.
In response, Better UTAH founder and Board President, Josh Kanter, issued the following statement:
“Extension after extension have put Utah residents and families in jeopardy. Medicaid has been on the table and debated for years and the Utah legislature has elected to do nothing rather than passing a program that would help tens of thousands of Utahns who lack health coverage.
“This isn’t a theoretical discussion. This failure to act is causing real harm to real people – even death. For Jeannette Ryder, an affordable healthcare option in Utah was the difference between life or death. Sadly, Jeannette passed away this past November from an undiagnosed heart valve infection. Had preventative healthcare been available to her, she may still be with us now. Rep. Dunnigan may think that it’s nice to ‘have some time go by’ but for some 66,000 Utahns without affordable access to healthcare, more time could mean their lives or the lives of their loved ones.
“Utahns support the Governor on this by a wide margin and Utahns are #stillwaiting.”