SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The push to repeal Utah’s voter-approved Prop 3 for Medicaid expansion went up for a committee vote in the Utah House Wednesday.
The House Business and Labor Committee voted 9 to 6 to give Senate Bill 96 a favorable recommendation.
The bill which already passed the Senate would expand Medicaid to Utahns who live at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. However, Prop 3 would expand Medicaid to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
Supporters of the bill say the state can’t afford Prop 3 and even though this ball costs more upfront, it’s more sustainable in the long run. Opponents say lawmakers are ignoring the will of the voters.
Utah Decides Healthcare spokesman Andrew Roberts made the following statement after the vote:
“Today members of the House followed their Senate colleagues in supporting a bill to overturn the will of Utah voters. This bill would commit Utah to paying more money to cover fewer people indefinitely. By interfering with the will of the voters, politicians risk bankrupting our state or kicking tens-of-thousands of Utahns off their health insurance. Either way, this isn’t what we voted for. Fully implementing Proposition 3 is the only responsible path.”
Alliance for a Better Utah’s executive director Chase Thomas attended the meeting, but he did not get the chance to testify. He released his prepared testimony after the hearing.
Most of the discussion on this bill has resolved around the intricacies of funding, the possibilities of waivers, and other policy-heavy arguments. While we have talked with academics from across the country who are experts on these issues, I’m not going to speak for them, except to say that they disagree with the financial arguments that are being used to justify this bill and believe that Proposition 3 could be implemented without being the budgetary disaster that some lawmakers are using as a boogeyman on this issue. We are more than willing to give their information to any lawmakers who would like to speak to them directly.
What I would like to address is the impact this bill is currently having on Utahns across the state and the future implications it could have on the Utah electorate.
S.B. 96 is an anti-democratic bill. By rolling back to policies and waivers already considered and passed by the Legislature in past years, it directly overturns the legislative intent of the people. It tells Utahns that even though they had the right to approve Proposition 3 under the Utah Constitution, that their vote can be immediately overturned and repealed. The vast majority of comments that we’ve heard during this process are “How does my vote matter” and “Why even vote.” We have even heard from people who voted against Prop 3 and oppose Medicaid expansion that are upset with this bill because of its message to voters.
If this bill passes, everyone should be concerned about the impact it could have on civic engagement across the state. Everyone should be concerned about the impact this could have on public respect for constitutional principles, not only of the right to initiatives, but also to the very core of how a democratic republic functions. Because if the Legislature doesn’t actually represent what the people want, then what is it for?
My main plea today is to ask you to remember this message you are sending to voters as you vote on this bill today. But we also hope that voters hear your message loud and clear. And we’re committing today to doing all that we can to ensure that they remember next election.