Medicaid expansion initiative flying under the radar of election season

Local News

MIDVALE, Utah (News4Utah) – Not many people have been talking about Proposition 3 because of other high profile candidates and issues on the November ballot. The initiative for Medicaid expansion is starting to heat up as supports try to get their message out.

Prop. 3 supporters held a town hall in Midvale Monday to explain the initiative, and why they think full expansion would have more benefits.

One of those supporters was Jim Rounds who suffers from MS and falls into the Medicaid coverage gap.

“I make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but I don’t make enough money to pay for my medical care, nor the medical bills I’ve managed to accumulate,” said Rounds.

Prop. 3 supporters estimate full expansion would cover nearly 150,000 Utahns currently in the coverage gap. It would pay for it by raising the sales tax 0.15 percent.

During the last legislative session lawmakers passed a partial expansion to cover nearly 80,000 Utahns without raising taxes. Political experts say it’s unclear what impact that will have on Prop. 3 vote in November.

While supporters are now trying to get the word out, the increased attention is also expected to bring scrutiny.

The Sutherland Institute isn’t telling urging a yes or no vote, but has been outspoken on expansion in the past. Derek Monson is the VP of Policy for the organization, and points out the worry of unintended costs. He notes in some states enrollment was higher than expected, and the costs could rise higher than anticipated.

“Where do we get that money?” said Monson. “Do we have to talk it from education or criminal justice, or do we have to raise taxes again? So there is this question of what are the harmful impacts that maybe we aren’t talking about right now.”

While Prop. 3 hasn’t received much attention so far, political experts believe that’s going to change. Hinckley Institute of Politics Director Jason Perry notes that

“I think the kind of the sleepy time behind this one may be behind us,” said Perry. “After Labor Day people are going to start talking about all of them.”

The latest polling shows Prop. 3 has just over 50 percent support. Perry notes those numbers usually tighten as people pay more attention closer to election day.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...