Medicaid Expansion & Healthy Utah
For the past several years Utah has been contemplating Obamacare’s mandate to expand Medicaid. To date, 29 states have expanded and 19 have chosen not to expand. Utah is one of 3 states still deciding. However, governors of all 3 of those states, including Utah’s Governor Herbert, are debating proposals that would expand Medicaid to some degree.
Utah’s expansion proposal is called Healthy Utah. Rather than just expanding the number of people who qualify for Medicaid, the Governor’s plan would provide subsidies, paid for mostly by the federal government, so the uninsured can purchase private insurance.
There are a couple of negative consequences associated with Healthy Utah. First, its reliance upon federal money is problematic. 30% of Utah’s budget is paid for by the federal government already, belying our natural inclination for self sufficiency. But most risky is the fact that the federal government doesn’t have the money to spare. By last count, the US was $17 trillion in debt. And last year they spent $500 billion more than they brought in. The long term projections for the federal budget are anything but rosy, with many difficult choices facing our representation in Congress in the coming years. Most of those choices involve large tax increases or reduced spending on programs like Healthy Utah in order to continue funding core government services. Relying on the federal government’s finances is a risky bet.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of Healthy Utah is that in providing subsidies to purchase private insurance it pushes those currently on Medicaid, our state’s most vulnerable, further behind in health care access. A recent survey found that just 45% of doctors are accepting new Medicaid patients. Adding thousands of people to the private insurance rolls will make it that much harder for Medicaid patients to find doctors able to treat them. As the Sutherland Institute’s Derek Monson wrote, “It improves access to health care for uninsured Utahns only by taking it away from Utah’s most vulnerable people.”
Sutherland Institute OpEd: We Deserve Better Than Current Healthy Utah
Sutherland Institute OpEd: Healthy Utah Plans Would Hurt The Most Vulnerable Utahns
Families USA: 50 State Look at Medicaid Expansion
60 Minutes: US Heading For Financial Trouble