In a statement released today, AARP Utah State Director Alan Ormsby said, “AARP Utah is disappointed that the Utah legislature did not advance Healthy Utah into law this session. This means that thousands of people who fall into the coverage gap will continue to suffer because of their lack of access to affordable health care. Some will die while waiting for treatment. It is truly disheartening when political posturing gets the upper hand over the outpouring of support for Healthy Utah from the public and organizations around the state. We hope that this vital piece of legislation will be considered and passed quickly in a special session of the legislature and intend to work with the committee to help ensure that this happens.”
I’m sure you have seen it in the papers. Legislators are still dragging their feet to support Governor Herbert’s Health Utah plan which will provide health care for low-income Utahns who have no other affordable option for care. Thousands of Utahns are waiting to see what will happen with this decision; for those in the coverage gap it could literally be a life-or-death decision. We must let our elected officials know where the public stands. Click here to send a message to your legislators telling them it is time to do the right thing and bring our tax dollars back into the state to cover our fellow Utahns.
The 2014 legislative session ended on March 13, and while there is still plenty of work to be done – especially in the area of Medicaid expansion – AARP had a successful session advocating for older Utahns. Here is a rundown of what took place:
In breaking news, the Senate passed legislation allowing Governor Herbert to negotiate with the federal government for a block grant that would essentially cover people up to 138 percent of poverty. Though not an expansion of the Medicaid program, this grant would allow those up to the full expansion category to purchase private insurance with federal funding. The House has yet to vote on this plan, and passed an expansion version in committee that would use a much smaller amount in state dollars to cover fewer people. Though the federal government must give Utah a waiver for the Governor's plan, it is a breakthrough on receiving federal funding.
There has been a lot of action in the Legislature this week related to the Medicaid expansion. There are roughly 60,000 Utahns who don’t earn enough to qualify for help to purchase health insurance. Last week the House Republicans unveiled their plan created to address the issue, and it has on its way to the House floor for debate. Instead of partnering with the federal government to provide adequate health coverage to all of those 60,000, they would rather opt to only use state dollars to provide a smaller benefit to only the sickest in that group. The small group who qualify for help could either 1) have a subsidy to help pay for insurance through their employer if it is available, 2) enroll in the state Primary Care Network program which provides very limited health coverage and doesn’t cover any costs incurred at a hospital or with a specialist or 3) use a small lump sum of money to try and purchase their own health plan. Here are the problems with this:
Do you want to know how to follow what’s going on with the Utah legislature? There’s good news—there’s an excellent website, www.le.utah.gov that provides lots of ways to track bills, learn about upcoming hearings, and find out the status of a particular piece of legislation.
Democracy Day is coming up soon, right at the beginning of the Utah legislative session on Tuesday, January 28th, just one day after the session convenes. This is a chance for citizens around the state to hear from state dignitaries, witness a debate between Republican and Democratic party leaders, tour the Capitol, and have lunch with their legislators in the Capitol Rotunda. You will also have the opportunity to view the Utah House of Representatives and Senate as consider legislation on the floor and watch votes on proposed bills. The event, including lunch, is free and open to everyone.
A new year means a new session for the Utah State Legislature, which convenes on January 28 and wraps up a short 45 days later on March 14. Despite such an abbreviated session, over 400 bills will be passed, with hundreds more considered by legislative committees but not enacted into law.
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