Utah state government is abrogating its responsibility to the people of Utah.
Full Medicaid expansion now would provide 140,000 of the poorest Utahns with health coverage, bring $400,000,000 annually onto the state and create thousands of new healthcare sector jobs. Much of the $400M is Utah tax money that will instead go elsewhere (Jerry Brown thanks the Utah Legislature). One hundred percent of the costs of Medicaid expansion are covered by federal funds for the first 3 years, decreasing to 90 percent by 2020.
Of the 140,000 that would be helped by the expansion, 66 percent are working in low-paying jobs, 16 percent are unemployed and the rest are disabled, students, and non-working moms. Many of these 140,000 live in House District 54, perhaps close to 2,000. Statewide, some of these people will die from lack of medical care each year. The longer the Legislature delays action, the more likely that one or more will be our neighbors.
There are some in the Legislature who argue that we can not afford to cover the incremental 10 percent in the out years. Do the math. That comes to $40M per year or $14.29 per year per Utah resident. Is that too much?
Now the governor is proposing a half baked (some would say half something else) "Utah" solution. A "solution" that takes a fraction of the federal money, funnels it through local insurance companies (who skim off 20 percent), and charges the poor increased co-pays, all to pacify the extreme right wing of his party.
Is "Healthy Utah(?)" better than nothing? Yes, but we can do better. There was a time when our political leaders thought that providing for the general welfare of the population was an obligation of our society. It seems now that our Utah leaders are part of the "Me" generation, who think only of their own bottom line and the welfare of their political benefactors and fear the loudest extreme voices.
It is time to send the Utah legislature a message. Do the right thing for the people of Utah. In November, throw out those who won't and replace them with those who will.