Full Medicaid expansion passed through a Senate committee Tuesday and is headed to the full floor of the Utah State Senate. The Democrat-backed Senate Bill 77 passed the judiciary committee 5-1.
Before you start thinking Medicaid is a done deal after years of wrangling, think again. Several Republicans voting for the bill did so in an effort to continue the discussion, but said they would vote against it.
SB77 is not the only bill on Medicaid on Utah’s Capitol Hill. There is also a Republican-sponsored bill that mirrors the governor’s “Healthy Utah” expansion that would cost less and cover fewer people.
“I don’t much care which one of these passes, as long as we walk away from this session with something that is meaningful, that has been done to help the citizens of Utah.” State Sen. Brian Shiozawa, who is also an emergency room physician, said Wednesday.
“We have both the right and the responsibility to do our job.”
“If we do the right thing, we can leverage back billions of federal dollars in exchange for our money and bring thousands of jobs to here to Utah and save hundreds of Utah lives.” Shiozawa plans to sponsor his own bill but the clock is ticking with only two weeks left and the only bill approved for debate likely to fail.
Utah’s Democratic State Chair Peter Corroon says his party is “willing to work with others across the aisle to pass ‘Healthy Utah.’ – we do not want anything less than a covering the hundreds of thousands of Utahn’s who go without insurance and health coverage.”
Alliance for a Better Utah held a news conference with people on both sides of the political aisle, hoping to gain momentum with voters willing to call their legislators and demand action.
“I wanted to be here today to speak for those in similar situations of my mother.” Karina Andelin Brown spoke about her mother who died at the age of 64.
“She passed away in 2013 of an acute stroke. She was too young for Medicare and did not qualify for Medicaid.”
Brown’s mom raised seven kids on her own while working and going to school, but died in the so called coverage gap when she was no longer covered as a senior.
“I just think it is so important to have compassion, for the residents of Utah that are not currently living happily ever after story” Brown said.
She urged Utahn’s to think beyond themselves with Medicaid expansion.
“Sometimes when you are in your own story and everything is going great, maybe it is hard to have empathy for those having a hard time, but it is important to remember that human factor.”
Read KUTV article and watch clip here.