The Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act permits states to opt out of the law's Medicaid expansion, and that’s what Utah House lawmakers aim to do with House Bill 391. The bill would ban Utah’s governor and the Department of Health from expanding the Medicaid program. It passed the Utah House of Representatives this morning and now heads to the Senate where it faces opposition from leadership.
Republican Representative Jake Anderegg said expanding the Medicaid program to cover potentially 131,000 more Utahns is not sustainable. He told members of the House to look for a better solution in Utah’s industrious and charitable population to ensure low-income Utahns get the care they need.
“We have the ability," Anderegg said. "This false promise and this false hope can be answered in us, our most important asset; our people.”
The federal government has offered to pay for the first three years and up to 90 percent of the cost of expansion over time. But Anderegg and others worry a financially-strapped Federal government won’t follow through on the promise.
Republican Senate Leaders aren’t thrilled with the idea of expanding Medicaid, but Assistant Majority Whip Peter Knudson says the buck stops with the Governor.
“I would prefer to not tie his hands, give him whatever latitudes he needs to make his decision," Knudson said. "So I’m not in favor of the bill itself.”
Utah Governor Gary Herbert is waiting for a cost analysis report from the Utah Department of Health before he makes a decision.