The latest on Utah’s Medicaid bill

The legislature is moving fast on a bill to modify Medicaid expansion passed at the ballot box last November in Proposition 3.

Here is a run down of some of the best reporting on the topic which is getting widespread coverage by Utah’s media.

  • Republican leaders are hoping to have 2/3rd of the House lined up by the end of this week to follow up on the Senate’s initial signal of support for SB 96 by a vote of 22-7 on a procedural motion. From UtahPolicy.com.

Legislative sources tell UtahPolicy.com that House Republican leaders are turning up the pressure on members, particularly newly elected legislators, to find enough votes to reach a ⅔ majority. Those sources say House Majority Leader Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, recently assembled the new members for a meeting and informed them that leadership expected them to vote for the bill.

Republicans need a ⅔ majority in both houses for two reasons. The bill will go into effect immediately upon the governor’s signature, and it blocks a citizen referendum to repeal the measure.

  • Supporters of Prop. 3 are running TV ads and organizing rallies to try to generate pressure on legislators to keep Prop. 3 intact.  From the Deseret News.

Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, said lawmakers are already feeling pressure and the TV commercials can only turn up the heat.

“I feel like we’re getting beat up,” he said, calling the claims by the Proposition 3 proponents frustrating and disingenuous. “It makes it hard to vote a certain way, so they matter.”

  • While last week’s Senate bill appeared to have momentum, the fiscal price tag was more than some members were ready to support.  From the Salt Lake Tribune.

Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, said a new version of SB96 with “technical changes” is being drafted, partly in response to a preliminary budget analysis that found the plan to be more expensive than some of his colleagues could take.

“I know it came in at a number that people weren’t excited about,” Hemmert said.

  • The political backlash that some legislators could face might be significant, particularly following earlier action on medical marijuana, LaVarr Web suggests.

Legislators ought to sit down with the stakeholders involved to resolve differences and make improvements. Lawmakers risk an enormous backlash if they do violence to the basic premise of Medicaid expansion.