A bill that would stop the state of Utah from expanding its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act passed a committee vote Wednesday evening.
The original version of House Bill 391 would have declared the Affordable Care Act "null and void" in Utah. But legislative lawyers warned it would likely be found unconstitutional by a court. So Representative Jacob Anderegg of Lehi offered a substitute that simply forbids the governor and the Department of Health from expanding Utah's Medicaid program.
As the House Business and Labor Committee discussed the substitute bill, Representative Ken Ivory said Utah has to stand up to the federal govenrment on this issue, while Representative Johnny Anderson, also a Republican, argued for a more practical approach.
"If we roll over and everyone else rolls over, the federal government continues to grow in power," Ivory said. "It's the nature and disposition of man and government to amass unbridled power.
Then committee chair Jim Dunnigan asked, "Representative Anderson, does that answer your question?"
"Not even close," Anderson replied. "If we choose not to accept Medicaid, we're not nullifying anything. We're not exercising jurisdictional authority over any other part of the Affordable Care Act. We still pay the tax."
The committee adopted the substitute and sent it on to the House on a 9-to-6 vote.
Asked about the bill, Governor Gary Herbert urged legislators not to limit his options before the Health Department finishes its Medicaid study.
"It's probably better off," Herbert told reporters, "to let us go through the thoughtful, methodical study, where we have all the information on the table and then make the decision."
HB 391 now moves on to a vote in the full House.