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.”

Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis Discusses Fight for SB134: Game Fowl Fighting Amendments

The Humane Society of Utah interviewed Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis on the passage of SB 134, Game Fowl Fighting, and named Senator Davis as one of Utah’s best legal champions for animals.

Gene- Headshot

Senator Senator Gene Davis discusses the difficult three year push for making game fowl fighting a felony:

“As its sponsor, I did manage to get the felony cockfighting bill through the Senate all three times. But the first year it died in the House, just sort of laughed off the pages and voted down. The following year, it was basically gutted — the House totally eliminated everything we wanted to accomplish with it.”This year, it was also watered down to the point where it became almost unrecognizable. As it ended up, cockfighting is a Class B misdemeanor on the first offense, then it progresses to a Class A misdemeanor. We don’t even get to the felony level until there’s a conviction on the third offense. In retrospect, I wish we could have got the bill through in its original form. We need to put an end to this archaic and brutal activity once and for all in Utah. But this is a beginning — it’s much farther than we’ve ever come before.

Senator Davis Op-ed: Fully Expand Medicaid to Truly Help Needy Utahns

Senator Gene Davis recently had an Op-Ed published in the Salt Lake Tribune (March 10th, 2015).  Davis 2013

This Op-Ed explains his position concerning the several health care bills that have been brought before the legislature this session. As the session ended without any resolution concerning health care, we, as the Utah Senate Democrats, want you share this Op-Ed with you.

Below is Senator Gene Davis’ Op-Ed in it’s entirety. The link follows below and we encourage you to share.

Op-ed: Fully expand Medicaid to truly help needy Utahns

As the Utah Legislature winds down, one major issue remains before us — deciding if and how the state of Utah will provide access to health care for those at the lower end of the economic scale.

Before us is Healthy Utah, a program that many have touted as the solution. Healthy Utah provides health care coverage to 199,000 people with federal tax dollars for two years and then dead-ends. At the end of
those two years,we will be putting thousands of lives in jeopardy as we will need to have the same debate we are having today — if and how Utah will provide access to health care for many of its citizens.

I recently had a conversation with a young woman who was gainfully employed and had access to health insurance from her employer. Then she became ill and, consequently, she lost her job. Now her only option for health care is through the emergency room, where she has amassed $250,000 in medical debt. She cannot afford the tests needed to diagnose her health problems. Many people find themselves in similar situations without access to needed health care. Healthy Utah, utilizing federal dollars for premium subsidies, would provide health insurance to many individuals; but my huge concern with Healthy Utah is the large amount of money needed for deductibles and co-pays, which results in large annual out-of-pocket expenses.

During this 2015 session, I offered Senate Bill 83, Robust Utah (full Medicaid expansion). This bill provides an ongoing program that allows access to Medicaid coverage for eligible individuals. In the state of Utah, 199,000 individuals would be able to access health care starting in 2016. Each year using 90 percent federal dollars and 10 percent Utah dollars, an average of $500 million (with a five-year total of nearly $3
billion) would be placed into the state’s economy. Under the Affordable Care Act, the state has the opportunity to accept the expansion of Medicaid (Robust Utah) and provide access for those living below 138
percent of the federal poverty line. That means a family of four with an annual income of $33,465 or under would be eligible. Healthy Utah, while covering the same number of people, essentially subsidizes the health insurance industry, requires enrollees to accumulate large amounts of out-of-pocket expenses, and dead-ends after two years.

I have proposed Robust Utah because I have noted Healthy Utah’s incredible downfalls. Robust Utah is all about access. Robust Utah provides health care access well into the future. It ensures that individuals who work hard can get the health care they need. Utah still has a consequential choice to make this legislative session. Do we, as a state, provide affordable health care coverage to Utah’s citizens, including the working
poor?

Sen. Gene Davis is a Democrat representing South Salt Lake and parts of Salt Lake City, West Valley City and Murray in the Utah Senate.

link to article:
http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/2268895-155/op-ed-fully-expand-medicaid-to-truly

2013 Intern Appreciation Day!

Thank you to our awesome Utah Senate Democrats‘ interns!
• Senator Davis’ Interns: Elizabeth Stubbs & Vic Ardiano
• Senator Mayne’s Intern: Keegan Rank
• Senator Jones’ Intern: Taylor Bouchard
• Senator Robles’ Intern: Mario Organista
• Senator Dabakis’ Intern: Ben Ader

Read personal messages from the senators to their interns on Facebook.

Photo by Flawur Media

Utah Senate Democrats Lunch Winners

We were excited to host our first Utah Senate Democrats Lunch Winners on March 1 at the Capitol. We were thrilled both parties were represented!

More than 100 people entered the contest via social media within three weeks. We had a great conversation with the winners over chicken mole enchiladas and chiles rellenos catered by Rico Foods. We discussed education, health care and our own families, among other topics.

The winners were:
• Carlos Vasques of Fruit Heights, Davis County.
• Sarah Al-Obaydi of Salt Lake City.
• Jahn Curran of Salt Lake City, Rose Park.
• Michael Christensen of West Valley City.
• Julie Dole of West Jordan and Salt Lake County Republican Party Chair.

Iraqi Kurdish Parliament Visit to the Capitol


Senator Davis had the opportunity last week to meet with seven members of the Iraqi Kurdish Parliament, which is made up of 111 people; 39 women.  The lawmakers are participants in the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program, International Visitor Leadership Program, to learn and examine the legislative process and roles of the leadership within the legislature.  Senator Davis was honored to meet the following leaders:

• Ms. Rozan Abdulkader Ahmad Dizayee, Ph. D

• Mrs. Bayan Ahmed Hasan

• Ms. Susan Yousif Khoshabah

• Mr. Goron Azad Mohammed

• Mr. Sabah Mohammed Najeeb, Ph. D

• Dr. Saman Fawzi Omer

• Mrs. Ashti Aziz Salih

Dems forum cheers overhaul of health care

From the Salt Lake Tribune
by Pamela Manson

State Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, said the Affordable Care Act requires that 80 percent of premiums must be used for health care. Utah already has an exchange for small businesses and should take the next step, he said.

“I really believe the state of Utah needs to take the lead in creating our own exchange for individuals,” rather than waiting for the federal government to do it, Davis said.

Click here to read the whole story.

Senator Davis greets Saudia Arabian Visitors

A group of seven international visitors from Saudi Arabia visited Utah under the auspices of the U. S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, administered locally by the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, to examine “Religious and Public Education.”  Participants were:

 Mr. Khalid Ateatallah ALAMRI
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Madinah

 Mr. Fahd Alean ALDLWE
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Al-Ula

 Mr. Fahad Abdulrahman ALHAMAD
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Hail

 Mr. Mohammed Nughaymish ALHARBI
 Islamic Education Teacher, Al-Mahd Directorate of Education, Ministry of Education

 Mr. Hussain Salman ALMALKI
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Jizan

 Mr. Abdullah Ali ALSAWEED
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Qassim

 Mr. Abdulaziz Rashid ALTUWAIRISH
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Dammam

 Mr. Hassan Abdullah SAWADI
 Islamic Education Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Abha

 The international visitors met with Senator Gene Davis on Monday, May 24, to discuss religion in Utah and its intersection with public education in infuencing education policy.  Senator Davis also took the group on a brief tour of our newly renovated Capitol.  They visited the House and Senate Chambers, the Rotunda, and peered through the windows at the base isolators in the basement of the Capitol.

Senator Davis and Saudi Arabian Visitors
Senator Davis and the Group from Saudi Arabia

Senator Davis & Fahad Alhamad
Senator Davis and Mr Fahad Alhamad