SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Utah voters passed Proposition 3 to expand Medicaid last November, but Monday there was another vote. This vote was among state lawmakers to approved a limited version of the expansion.
Senate Bill 96 passed by a 22-7 vote. Some call it a more fiscally-responsible version of Medicaid expansion. Others call it a betrayal of the will of the voters.
The bill just covers Utahns making up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, not those making up to 138 percent as dictated by Prop 3. Some call SB96 a more fiscally responsible and sustainable approach to Medicaid expansion.
Democratic Senator Gene Davis (D- Salt Lake City) has pushed for full Medicaid expansion for the last four years and was one of seven who voted against the bill Monday.
“My true concern is the fact that the people went to the polls and they voted for full Medicaid expansion, not based upon the dollar amount, not based upon the budget. They raised the taxes to be able to do that,” said Davis.
“Proposition 3 as it was passed was not workable despite what many say I can identify six different things in Proposition 3 that just simply wouldn’t work. They had to be changed,” said Sen. Allen Christensen (R-North Ogden). “The biggest one, of course, was the money. There was not even half enough money there to pay for the whole thing.”
Governor Gary Herbert swiftly signed the bill into law Monday afternoon and issued the following statement:
“SB 96 balances Utah’s sense of compassion and frugality. It provides quality coverage to the same population covered by Proposition 3 in a meaningful, humane and sustainable way. It is now time to set aside differences and move forward to get those in greatest need enrolled on Medicaid and on the federal health care exchanges.”
Andrew Roberts, spokesperson of the group Utah Decides called it a “dark day for democracy” in Utah.
“The governor and state legislature have turned their backs on voters and our families in need. They chose to leave billions of our tax dollars in Washington and cut healthcare for tens-of-thousands of Utahns. While special interests and politicians celebrate the success of their backroom deal, Utah families will be up late tonight knowing they just lost the ability to afford lifesaving care,” said Roberts.