Flagged Bill: SB 83 – Medicaid Expansion Proposal – Sen. Gene Davis

Senator Gene Davis (Democrat - Salt Lake City)
Senator Gene Davis (Democrat – Salt Lake City)

At this point, you may or may not have heard of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion in the State of Utah. For three years now, lawmakers have studied and debated the topic of no, partial, or complete expansion of health care benefits for the state’s disadvantaged.

It appears that Senator Gene Davis (Democrat – Salt Lake City) is tired of the discussion and instead wants to see a decision on the topic once and for all as he is currently proposing SB 83 – Medicaid Expansion Proposal.

As one might suspect, Davis is proposing wholesale adoption of Medicaid expansion in the State of Utah, to cover more than 100,000 Utahns who currently do not have any form of health insurance due to the fact that they earn too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid, but not enough to purchase health insurance on the private market.

Davis’s bill should not be confused with Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan. Full Medicaid expansion does not feature a requirement that those signing up for the program either be employed, attempting to be employed, or so medically frail that they are unable to participate in the workforce – something that is the hallmark of the the Healthy Utah plan.

From an economic standpoint, Davis’ legislation makes fiscal sense. The reality is that Utahns are currently paying for Davis’s bill.

After nationwide health expansion became a reality, every citizen’s tax dollars were used to fund the program. States that opted into Medicaid expansion were able to use the funds for their citizens while funds received from citizens in states that have not adopted Medicaid expansion were simply dispersed among those who did accept the funds. In short, Utah has been paying for Arizona, California, and the 27 other states and Washington D.C. that have accepted the expansion.

Eventually, Utahns would be asked to pick up an additional 10 percent of the costs for Medicaid expansion, but this calculation fails to take into account current costs associated with the uninsured currently needing to access health care. Yes, Utahns would have to pick up a bigger piece of the pie, but it is conceivable that the size of the pie itself will shrink.

The reality is that it is very doubtful that Davis will pass SB 83 when considering the fact that Herbert is having a extremely difficult time advancing a watered down version of Davis’s bill. Other lawmakers on the Hill simply have refused to address the issue while power brokers actively oppose any sort of health care expansion for those beyond the medically frail.

To this end, it appears that the true reason that Davis is proposing his legislation is to put other lawmaker’s feet to the fire and force them to at least say, in no uncertain terms, that they are opposed to full health care expansion with their vote. The political play will force those voting no to explain to their voters, and to those who are not covered, why they chose not to expand health care.

To contact Senator Davis, click here or call 801-484-9428.

You can track this, and all of our other flagged bills, by clicking here. Need an explanation of scores? Click Here.

Impact on Average Utahn 0-1-2-3-4-5
Need for Legislation 0-1-2-3-4-5
Lemon Score 0-1-2-3-4-5
Overall Grade A

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