Better Utah announces opposition to Rep. Dunnigan’s Medicaid expansion proposal [UPH Wire]

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 24, 2016
CONTACT: Josh Kanter, Alliance for a Better Utah
801-520-0757 │ josh@betterutah.org

*Better Utah announces opposition to Rep. Dunnigan’s Medicaid expansion
proposal*

Salt Lake City, Utah – The Alliance for a Better Utah announced its
opposition to the Medicaid bill introduced today by House Majority Leader
Jim Dunnigan (R – Taylorsville) and urged lawmakers to reject Dunnigan’s
proposal. Rather than providing for the tens of thousands of Utahns who
need access to the healthcare system in a fiscally responsible manner,
Dunnigan’s proposal seeks to cover only a small fraction of the Utahns
still living within the “Coverage Gap” at the highest cost-per-enrollee of
any of the currently proposed plans.

“With three full or near-full expansion plans on the table, it is
inconceivable that this is the best that the legislature can do,” said Josh
Kanter, founder and board president of the Alliance for a Better Utah. “In
fact, it’s unconscionable.”

“The failure to address Medicaid expansion in a meaningful way really
demonstrates the priorities and moral fortitude of our legislature. We
continually approve highway projects at $10 million per mile in the name of
convenience and economic development, but we sacrifice our citizens’ health
and education,” continued Kanter. “We have an obligation to the most in
need among us. It is a moral and religious imperative, and our legislature
knows it. The cost of full expansion, or the Governor’s Healthy Utah plan,
is estimated at 2.5 times the cost of Rep. Dunnigan’s proposal but would
cover over eight times the number of people. As such, we oppose Dunnigan’s
bill, and we will continue to support any measure that promises to bring
real Medicaid expansion to Utah.”

Background: From 2014–2016, the federal government would have fully funded
Medicaid expansion, and beyond that time, it would continue to support
expansion under a highly generous 90/10 match. It is estimated that full
expansion, which would provide Medicaid to those with incomes up to 138% of
the federal poverty line (approximately 130,000 Utahns), would cost Utah
approximately $78 million per year by fiscal year 2021. Rep. Dunnigan’s
proposal, which would cover about 16,000 of the lowest-income individuals
in the state, would cost Utah about $30 million per year on a current
basis, a total he proposes to reach through heightened hospital assessments
and pulling from the general fund. The Hospital Association has previously
offered a $25 million annual contribution toward the state’s cost of
Medicaid expansion. Bills are currently pending from Senators Gene Davis
and Brian Shiozawa, and Representative Ray Ward, each of which provides
coverage for more Utahns living in the coverage gap than does
Representative Dunnigan’s proposal.

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