Medicaid Dollars and Common Sense

Over 3/4 of Utah residents say they support at least some form of Medicaid expansion, yet the Republicans refuse to budge on this issue.  Their refusal to accept even the minimal expansion proposed by Gov. Herbert last session is a slap in the face to hard-working Utah families who don’t earn enough to afford health insurance and who cannot access the tax credits intended to make that insurance affordable.

Full Medicaid expansion isn’t just the right thing to do; it makes sound financial sense.

The current talk on the Hill is that House Republicans will introduce a bill that will cover only 16,000 or so Utahns and will cost us $30 million.

Meanwhile, Sen. Gene Davis is proposing a full Medicaid expansion that will cover ALL of the over 110,000 Utahns who are eligible for Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), but who haven’t had the opportunity due to Utah’s refusal to expand Medicaid.  The plan would cost less than $50 million, and would bring in over $300 million in federal dollars in return every year. Not only is that a sound investment, but it is the right thing to do.

Medicaid expansion is supported by our healthcare providers, by our business community, and by our citizens, but not by Republicans in our Legislature.  Why?

It’s time to stop playing games with people’s lives and get this done. Now!

UPDATE: Rep. Dunnigan’s plan is making it’s way though the House, but make no mistake. This is NOT Medicaid expansion.  Look at the two plans and compare for yourself.  The choice is simple. Full Medicaid Expansion is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.

Medicaid Comparisons

Members of Minority Caucus React to the Rejection of Medicaid Expansion

Earlier this week, the Utah Access Plus proposal was rejected in the House of Representatives. There will likely be no special session for Medicaid Expansion. Alternatives for covering the gap will be revisited during the 2016 Legislative Session.

Senator Davis, Minority Leader of the Senate Democrat Caucus, said, “The failure to get any Medicaid Expansion in Utah means we continue to step over tens of thousands of Utahns who need it most. It is incalculable how much this failure will cost Utah’s economy. Without expanding Medicaid, Utah is continuing to forgo millions of federal dollars. This is money lost to our economy. This shows on the part of the Legislature that there is no desire to make sure those on the lowest income scale have access to health care.”

Senator Davis continues, “It is a shame that the citizens of our state cannot count on the Legislature to adopt a sensible Medicaid Expansion plan that would provide access to health care for all Utahns. This affects everyone in our state and we cannot keep putting off a solution.”

Senator Escamilla shares her thoughts, “I am disappointed in the lack of action on this critical issue. Once again the most vulnerable residents of our state are suffering from nonsense politics.”

Immediately following the House’ rejection of the Medicaid Expansion proposal, Utah Access Plus, on Tuesday, Senator Dabakis said, “This is a red letter day for stupidity in Utah’s political history…The shameful actions of the Utah GOP House put ideology and politics ahead of common sense.”

Democrats stand together and vote NO on Controversial Health Care Compact

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Lee Davidson

The Senate gave preliminary approval Friday to a controversial health care compact bill that both sides say is strong medicine — but disagree whether it will cure or kill Medicare and Medicaid in Utah.

Senators voted 20-7 to advance SB208 by Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, to a final Senate vote.

The bill would have Utah join an interstate compact seeking to opt out of federal health care reform to let states control programs such as Medicaid and Medicare with federal block grants.

“I think we can manage our affairs better than the federal government,” Adams said. “I think there’s lots of money to be gained” through local innovation that he says is hindered by federal red tape.

But Sen. Patricia Jones, D-Holladay, said many questions are unanswered about whether block grants would keep pace with inflation, and what administrative costs would be locally. The Utah Health Policy Project estimated in committee that Utah could lose $132 million in Medicaid by 2014 if the bill passes.

Click here to read the whole story

Click here to see how your Senator voted.

Include Mental Health and Addictive Disorders

Senator Gene Davisby Senator Gene Davis
Senate District 3

As Congress and the State of Utah continue to look at health care reform, I believe we cannot overlook mental health and addictive disorders in any of our health care reform recommendations.  Mental illness is exactly that–an illness–and it can be treated. 

In a collaborative effort with Sybil Richard, Deputy Secretary, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, I wrote an essay on mental health and addictive disorders.  Please click here to read the essay (then click on “Mental Health and Addictive Disorders” in Table of Contents).

I would appreciate your comments.  Click below to share your opinion.