Utah Voters Approved Medicaid Expansion, But State Lawmakers Are Balking

Utah residents may have thought they were done fighting about Medicaid expansion last November. But when Utah lawmakers opened a new legislative session in late January, they began pushing through a bill to roll back the scope and impact of an expansion that voters approved in a ballot measure.

That scaled-back version of Medicaid expansion passed the Utah House on Friday by a 56-19 vote.

The activists who pushed the ballot measure are not pleased.

“We were very clear about what we wanted,” said Andrew Roberts, a spokesman for Utah Decides, the group that organized the Medicaid expansion referendum, known as Proposition 3. “We are frustrated, and I think Utahns are frustrated.”

That frustration led his group to hire a billboard truck to drive in circles around the Capitol building and through the snowy streets of Salt Lake City and its suburbs. Signs on the sides of the truck flash phrases in LED lights, including “Support democracy. Support Utah’s vote.” A looping video advertisement urges residents to call lawmakers “who don’t respect the will of the people.”

After six years of talking about Medicaid expansion, voters approved the ballot measure on Nov. 6, with 53 percent in favor. If implemented fully, 150,000 Utahns would gain coverage. The skinny expansion — which the state Senate and governor support — will also need federal approval.

Similar legislative efforts to curtail expansion are also happening in Idaho, where voters passed a Medicaid expansion initiative in November. Sixty-one percent of voters were in favor. Idaho lawmakers are considering ways to scale that program back.

The article was published at Utah Voters Approved Medicaid Expansion, But State Lawmakers Are Balking.

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