The current ballot initiative (Prop 3) that would implement the Obamacare Medicaid expansion is not the right approach to help Utah’s vulnerable population. Rather than finding cost-effective solutions to help residents, democrats want to take even more of your hard earned paycheck and simply throw money at the problem hoping it somehow works. This is a reckless way to govern and will lead to many unintended consequences, including reducing the amount of money available for public education.
Not only is the proposal expensive (it would raise taxes by $90 million and continue to grow in size and eat up other parts of Utah’s budget, like education) but it also would crowd out the truly needy and disabled in favor of able-bodied, working adults.
Utah State Senator Dan Hemmert published an op-ed in Deseret News outlining some of the issues with Prop 3:
Obamacare Medicaid expansion includes no cost or enrollment circuit breakers, and once we are in, we will never get out. The payment is undetermined and “term of the loan” is indefinite. Our decision will determine our future ability to fund vital state needs such as education, transportation and public safety.
Our “Utah style” limited Medicaid expansion is designed to help those truly in need while protecting taxpayers from excessive, budget-breaking costs. Under Proposition 3, all that flexibility vanishes in favor of a “top-down, one size fits all” Washington-style plan.
The legislature has taken a smarter approach to expanding coverage to the most needy, by using work requirements and setting a lower income threshold, an including cost controls to prevent out of control costs. As a state we need to have more control over our budget, and Medicaid spending is a big part of that. Medicaid spending grew from 11.8% of our state’s budget in 2000 to 18.7% in 2016. If Prop 3 passes that number will grow even more.
Full Obamacare expansion of Medicaid is not the right approach, and will lead to unsustainable levels of spending that will either eat up our public education budget or require us to implement huge tax increases. I will work with health policy experts and my colleagues in the legislature to make sure we move forward with smart solutions that work for Utah.