Gang Of Six Appear To Be Losing Ground On Medicaid Deal

It’s now been three months since the Gang of Six announced its tentative, skeletal framework to replace  Healthy Utah, Gov. Herbert’s proposed alternative to Medicaid expansion that was supported by over 80% of Utahns. Yet despite lofty promises of a, “broad, conceptual framework”, no formal plan has been released.

The Legislature’s failure to act was perpetuated, in part, by an inability to agree on the financial logistics for Medicaid Expansion in Utah. So we were optimistic when Republican leaders announced they had agreed to a plan that would call on hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies to pay for the new health care coverage.

The risk since the new framework was announced was the Legislature using any opposition from medical organizations as a scapegoat to excuse inaction. As this week’s events unveiled, the risk grew closer to a reality. Doctors, who would cover one-third of the cost under the tentative framework, are fighting the imposed costs. In response, legislators expressed their disappointment with the doctors’ opposition, suggesting that such reluctance might cause the plan to fail.

Of further concern, just days after the doctors were blamed for causing the delay, the Gang of Six seemed to pivot from the current proposal and float an entirely different proposal to cover the budgetary expenses with a sales tax on food – lacking any cohesive relation to the tentative framework they so confidently announced in July appropriating the cost among medical providers.

Every day, the need for a resolution becomes more and more urgent. So, any semblance of forward progression to a resolution must be celebrated, even if that means calling on the community collectively to provide the benefit; however, the rapid variance of healthcare proposals this week casts an uncertain future for Medicaid expansion in Utah. A history of missed opportunities, unmet deadlines, and apparent delays gives reason for concern to whether a resolution is truly forthcoming.

We cannot allow the Legislature to point the finger at someone else to excuse the inaction. Utahns are #StillWaiting. We must act now!

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