Utah Medicaid expansion proposal fails

Utah's Medicaid expansion proposal, Utah Access Plus, didn't pass among House Republicans, according to Desert News.

The plan would make $450 million available to the state and provide healthcare to nearly 100,000 low-income Utahns.

Here are five things to know about plan and its failure to pass in Utah.

1. The vote was overwhelmingly opposed to expanding Medicaid. Of the 63 House Republicans, only seven voted in favor of Utah Access Plus during a four hour closed caucus meeting. Due to a decision by House Speaker Greg Hughes (R), the plan required 38 Republican votes to move forward and discounted the 12 House Democrats, according to Fox 13.

2. The plan followed Governor Gary Herbert's (R) previous attempt at Medicaid expansion. Gov. Herbert's plan, Healthy Utah, failed to pass in the last legislative session, according to Fox 13. Taking a second shot, Gov. Herbert brought together House Speaker Hughes, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser (R), House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan (R) and the sponsor of Healthy Utah, Senator Brian Shiozawa (R) to create Utah Access Plus.

3. Resistance toward its passing stemmed from concerns over finance. House Republicans noted the Obama administration's reluctance to set enrollment caps and worried they would not be able to control numbers in Utah Access Plus. Medical providers expressed concern over the $50 million tax involved in the plan. "Everybody loves expanding Medicaid until they have to pay for it," said House Speaker Hughes.

4. Gov. Herbert's office released a statement in response to the decision. "The poorest among us will continue to struggle until Utah leaders can find agreement on this difficult issue," the statement said. "As new plans are brought forward, the governor maintains that his Healthy Utah proposal was the most innovative and cost efficient for the state. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives defeated Healthy Utah and continues to push back against other proposals, even those crafted by their own legislative leadership. Gov. Herbert stands by his Healthy Utah plan. After three years debating this issue, he has yet to see a better proposal that respects taxpayers while caring for Utahns most in need."

5. Next steps are unclear. Although future decisions regarding Medicaid expansion are up in the air, Senate President Niederhauser said he and House Speaker Hughes are meeting with Gov. Herbert Oct. 14 to discuss potential plans. "Keep the faith," he told Utahns awaiting expansion. "And make sure you're working with your legislators to make sure they know how you feel about it."

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