Medicaid expansion should not be political casualty

Salt Lake City — The Coalition for a Compassionate Utah organized last Fall with the express purpose of showing Governor Herbert that compassionate Utahns support the expansion of Medicaid.

Now that Gov. Herbert has recognized the importance of ensuring that Utahns have access to healthcare, and has acknowledged that doing nothing is not an option, the Legislature, led by Speaker Lockhart, is trying to delay and derail Governor Herbert’s decision to provide care to those most in need among us.

In response to this development, Compassionate Utahns have released the following statement:

“Member organizations of the Coalition for a Compassionate Utah continue to express dismay that the issue of Medicaid expansion is being delayed and appears to be the battleground in some sort of high-stakes political battle between House Speaker Becky Lockhart and Governor Gary Herbert. Late last fall our efforts resulted in well over a thousand emails and calls to Gov. Herbert’s office in support of Medicaid expansion. We are pleased that Governor Herbert agreed with these Utahns. We will now focus our efforts on the Legislature.

“Our legislators believe that expanding Medicaid will somehow make us beholden to the Federal Government. They forget that we are already paying millions of dollars into Federal coffers–money Utah will never see if Medicaid is not expanded. In fact, those tax dollars paid by hard working Utahns will simply be diverted to support Medicaid expansion in our neighboring states. Meanwhile, Speaker Lockhart’s “Utah solution” will cost Utah’s taxpayers yet another $35 million per year and will cover barely a third of those who would be covered through full Medicaid expansion.

“But there is a more fundamental issue at stake here – more pressing than tax dollars and political partisanship, and that is a question of Utah values. Political infighting is not a Utah value. But caring for and supporting one another is a Utah value. We have the opportunity to express that value through the full expansion of Medicaid. The legislature should do so immediately.”

About the Coalition for a Compassionate Utah: The Coalition for a Compassionate Utah is a diverse collection of non-profit organizations throughout Utah that supports full Medicaid expansion. Coalition members include: Alliance for a Better UTAH; Equality Utah; Fourth Street Clinic; The Gandhi Alliance for Peace; HEAL Utah; League of Women Voters of Utah; National Council of Jewish Women, Utah Section; Planned Parenthood Action Council; Sierra Club; Utah AFL/CIO; Utah Citizens’ Counsel; Utah Disability Caucus; Utah Parents Against Gun Violence; Utah Votes; Utahns Against Hunger; Voices for Utah Children; Young Democrats of Utah.

Individual Utahns can join the Coalition while contacting Governor Herbert and the Utah Legislature at www.compassionateutah.org.

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Contact:
Maryann Martindale
Executive Director, Alliance for a Better UTAH
801.557.1532 | maryann@betterutah.org

Isaac Holyoak
Communications Director, Alliance for a Better UTAH
801.664.9751 | isaac@betterutah.org

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