Voting yes on Proposition 3 expands Medicaid in Utah and will provide access to healthcare for more than 150,000 Utahns, including single parents, near-retirees, and people with chronic illnesses. The measure will also increase enrollment in healthcare coverage for an estimated 22,500 Utah children.

Tens of thousands of Utahns currently earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, yet earn too little to be eligible for premiums on the marketplace — falling in what’s called the Medicaid coverage gap. These citizens struggle to access preventive care, treat their chronic illnesses, and afford their prescriptions. Proposition 3 will cover everyone in this gap, providing life-saving healthcare to individuals who earn less than $17,000 a year, or $34,000 for a family of four.

The benefits of Medicaid expansion go beyond the population in the coverage gap. Utahns across the state will see lowered healthcare costs, a boost in the state’s economy, and healthier communities.

Proposition 3 allows Utah to get $9 back for every $1 raised by a sales tax increase of 0.15% on non-grocery items (about a penny on a movie ticket). By triggering this federal match, we can bring home over $800 million in federal funding every year from Washington D.C. — taxes that we’ve already paid that will return to Utah. This is money that 33 other states already get, but we’ve been losing out on for years.

Other states have seen enormous economic benefits by passing legislation like Proposition 3. Colorado’s economy grew by $3.82 billion, and Montana added over 3,000 new jobs and generated over $300 million in economic activity after expanding Medicaid.

Studies have projected similar economic successes for Utah. It’s estimated Proposition 3 will grow our state economy by $1.7 billion and create nearly 14,000 mostly healthcare sector jobs.

Reductions in emergency room visits and increased access to preventive care will also slow the rising costs of healthcare for all Utahns. Because emergency rooms cannot treat ongoing chronic conditions in the same way primary care physicians can, many patients wait until they are severely ill, increasing the cost of care as well as the severity of the illness. Not to mention they are the most expensive place to receive care. If that patient is uninsured, hospitals pass those costs onto insurance companies, who in turn raise insurance premiums for everyone. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, states who have expanded Medicaid have seen an average 7 percent reduction in premium costs.

Proposition 3 is proud to have the endorsement of organizations including AARP Utah, American Cancer Society, United Way of Salt Lake, Utah Nurses Association, American Heart Association, Utah Academy of Family Physicians, and countless Doctors, Nurses, and individual Utahns. This is a common-sense decision that will provide healthcare to thousands of Utah families, and benefit the state as a whole. Vote Yes on Proposition 3.

Submitted by: State Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful; the Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi, Episcopal Diocese of Utah; Alan Ormsby, AARP Utah; Beth Armstrong, People’s Health Clinic; and Stacy Stanford, Utah Health Policy Project.