SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A bill to replace Proposition 3, passed by Utah voters in November, clears the State Senate.
Monday, after a long and heated debate over Medicaid expansion, Senate Bill 96 passed on a 22-7 vote.
Prop 3 would expand Medicaid to those at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level in Utah.
Some state lawmakers say we can’t afford it.
“I appreciate voters wanted this tax, good for them, it doesn’t cover it. It doesn’t cover it and every other state out there is saying not only does it not cover it, but it didn’t cover it by a very large margin,” said Senator Jake Anderegg, (R) Lehi.
Senator Allen Christensen is sponsoring SB96. It would expand Medicaid to those at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level and keep others on the exchange.
He admits it will cost more in the short term, but insists it’s more sustainable down the road.
“By the year 2024, there will be an annual savings of $87 million versus $86 million dollars of cost,” said Christensen, (R) North Ogden.
The bill also implements enrollment caps, and work requirements and it hinges on a 90/10 waiver from the federal government.
“We are going to spend $71 million of the taxpayer’s money on a bet, if you will, that we are going to get these waivers. And, it’s a true bet. No other state has done it, what makes us think we’re so special that we will get it,” argued Senator Gene Davis, (D) Salt Lake City.
Most Republicans in the Senate say it’s a bet worth taking and voted to move the bill to the House.
Now Prop 3 advocates are planning the next steps.
“I think it’s incredibly discouraging as a Utah voter to see us all show up, make our voice heard and the Senate summarily discount it is a really frustrating thing,” said Andrew Roberts with Utah Decides Healthcare.
The final vote was nearly along party lines. Senator Todd Weiler was the only Republican to vote no.
Weiler says the people voted and he thinks a bill in the House better honors the election outcome.
That bill, sponsored by Representative Ray Ward, (R) Bountiful would seek the waiver but have Prop 3 as a fallback option.