Politics
4:43 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Utah Democrats Push for Medicaid Expansion

State Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck talks about her bill that would begin the process of expanding Medicaid in Utah. She and other members of the Democratic caucus are calling on Governor Gary Herbert to expand the program.
State Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck talks about her bill that would begin the process of expanding Medicaid in Utah. She and other members of the Democratic caucus are calling on Governor Gary Herbert to expand the program.
Credit Terry Gildea

Utah Democrats in the state legislature called on Governor Gary Herbert today to move forward with increasing Medicaid coverage. States have the option to expand their programs under the Affordable Care Act.  

If states opt in and provide health care coverage to those now eligible for the program, the federal government will pay for expansion for the first several years.  Democrats in both the Utah House and Senate want Governor Herbert to expand Medicaid.  Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck has introduced a bill that would begin the process

“It provides a framework for us as legislators to provide the appropriations necessary to allow agencies to ramp up and to get up to speed and be ready to respond if and when the Governor decides to move forward with the Medicaid expansion,” said Representative Chavez-Houck.

Republican Governors from Arizona, New Mexico, New Jersey and Florida plan to expand Medicaid, but Utah remains undecided.  Governor Gary Herbert says he’s waiting for report from the Utah Department of Health on the long term costs of expansion.

“We’re doing probably a better review I think than some states have done on what the cost to benefit is going to be on Medicaid expansion here in the state of Utah and also not only a cost to benefit if we do it, but a cost analysis and a lack of benefit analysis, if you will, if don’t do it,” said Governor Herbert.

Governor Herbert says there won’t be enough time to decide on Medicaid expansion before the legislative session ends, but he hopes to make a decision before the end of the summer.