(KCPW News) Some proposed, but not-yet-numbered legislation has health care advocates in Utah worried that lawmakers aim to reject Medicaid expansion in the state. Judi Hilman, Executive Director of the Utah Health Policy Project, says that a proposed bill by Republican Senator Stuart Adams could signal a move to block Medicaid expansion in Utah.
“We have heard that Sutherland Institute, which is this sort of far right think tank would like for their concept of authentic charity care to be [implemented], and they have said that they see that as an acceptable alternative to the Medicaid expansion,” Hilman said.
But Senator Adams says that his proposal has to do with creating a commission to study what charity care can do for the state, not about whether Utah will embrace Medicaid expansion. But he added that it could conceivably help with Medicaid.
“Medicaid expansion in Utah is such a big Item,” he said. “It’ll probably help, but I don’t know that there’s any way that we could ever compare the charity care effort to Medicaid expansion.”
But Hilman says the comparison is implicit, because of past discussions by lawmakers that have included discussions about replacing Medicaid expansion with Charity Care.
“About 687, 25-64 year old Utahns died due to a lack of health care coverage from 2005 to 2010,” Hilman said. “If you do all the math, economic impact, public health impact – people, even the poor, are better off with cost effective coverage that includes preventative care.”
A ruling on the Affordable Care Act by the Supreme Court gave states the choice to opt out of the law’s Medicaid expansion, leaving the decision to participate in the hands of lawmakers and the governor.
Neither Governor Gary Herbert nor the Legislature have said whether Utah will embrace the expansion.