Thank you to those who attended our Bills and Bagels meeting last Saturday. Our participation continues to climb with over 150 people from the public in attendance with 6 legislators including: Senators Deidre Henderson and David Hinkins, and Representatives Francis Gibson, Marc Roberts, Norm Thurston, and Mike McKell.
We had a very good discussion about education led by Brad Smith our new Utah State School Superintendent. Mark Open shaw and David Crandall board members of the Utah State Board of Education were also present to answer questions. Thank you to the Nebo School District for hosting this event.
There has been an unfortunate misrepresentation about the process the House of Representatives has gone through in its consideration of the governor’s Healthy Utah plan.
More time has been spent on this issue than any other as we have sought to find solutions to the coverage gap created by the Affordable Care Act. The House has had a task force studying the issue and making recommendations for the past two years. If no decision is made this session, the task force will continue to work toward a solution.
At this point, there is not sufficient support within the House of Representatives to move forward with the Governor’s Healthy Utah plan.
We have had the debate, much of it publicly, just not on the House floor. We have had presentations from representatives on all sides of the issue and have given members the resources needed to make a decision based on facts.
It is a false narrative to say that the debate has not taken place. It has, and over a much longer period of time and more extensively than would ever have taken place on the floor. Any hearing at this point would simply be a replay of the discussion that has already taken place for months and months.
Healthy Utah is an expansion of the ACA, Obamacare, and would take many people who already have health coverage and force them into Medicaid. The governor has promised not to raise taxes to fund our $25 million portion of this program for the next two years. However, our Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee was unable to fund tens of millions of dollars in requests last year, many for already existing programs. Yet, the governor seems convinced that without raising any taxes we can find another $25 million behind the seat cushions to force scores of people off existing healthcare, place them on Medicaid and then potentially drop them in two years with no contingency plan. Just yesterday the legislature was informed that we need to come up with an additional and completely unexpected $22 million to pay for overruns in our current Medicaid system, $11 million ongoing and another $11 million in one-time funds.
We need to do better than that, and we hope that the Governor and Senate will join with us to find solutions that work for the people of Utah.
Thank you for the great privilege of representing House District 66. I look forward to a great session. If you have any questions during the legislative session, please feel free to contact me any time. I can be reached on my cell phone at (801) 836-7597. If for any reason you are unable to contact me during the legislative session, my intern Matthew Hodgson can be reached at (916) 412-7661 or firstname.lastname@example.org.