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George Pyle: Utah’s Medicaid reversal makes us a fool coast-to-coast

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Over 300 demonstrators fill the Capitol rotunda on Monday, Jan, 28, 2019, on the first day of the Legislative session to rally in support of protecting Proposition 3, the Medicaid Expansion law recently passed by voters.

Others have noticed what a foolish thing the Utah Legislature did in rolling back the Medicaid expansion that was approved by the voters in November.

Stupid Medicaid tricks: Utah figures out how to spend more to cover fewer people — Michael Hiltzik | The Los Angeles Times

"It has become obvious over the past few years that the Affordable Care Act has the power to cloud Republicans’ minds.

But few are as befuddled as the legislature and governor of Utah, who just enacted a partial expansion of Medicaid under the ACA that will cover 60,000 fewer residents while costing the state more than full expansion. ...

" ... What’s more, the measure represents flagrant defiance of the people’s will. At the November polls, Utahans approved a full expansion of Medicaid by a solid 53%-47% vote.

“ ‘I do not accept the characterization that SB 96 ignores the will of the people,’ Gov. Gary Herbert said of the bill that superseded the November initiative. ‘I see this as a thoughtful effort to implement the will of the people.’

“Sure it is. ...”

Utah Against Health Insurance: The state’s politicians have rejected the will of the voters and taken coverage from 60,000 Utahns. — David Leonhardt | The New York Times

"In November, the people of Utah voted to provide health insurance for about 150,000 state residents who lacked it. Last week, Utah’s legislators overruled their own constituents and took away insurance from about 60,000 of those 150,000 people.

The legislators claimed they were trying to save money, but that’s not a credible rationale: The federal government would have covered the bulk of the cost. The true reason — which the legislators weren’t willing to admit publicly — was a philosophical objection to government-provided health insurance. ...

" ... The offending politicians have been mostly Republican, as they are in Utah. ‘You see a rising, disturbing trend here of equivocation, if not worse, in the commitment to democratic norms on the part of a growing number of Republicans,’ Larry Diamond, a Stanford University democracy expert, told my colleague Ian Prasad Philbrick. ‘Is this what the Republican Party wants to be? The anti-democracy party?’ ..."

Utah voters chose Medicaid expansion. Republican politicians decided they knew better.Chris Cillizza | CNN

"The Utah legislature passed a measure that would restrict the state’s ability to accept Medicaid expansion money from the federal government under the Affordable Care Act -- a move that essentially undid a ballot initiative -- Proposition 3 -- approved by voters last November.

“Which is a very weird thing for politicians, who depend on channeling the public will, to do. In search of some explanation for this bizarre behavior, I reached out the the Salt Lake Tribune’s Benjamin Wood, who has been all over this Medicaid expansion fight. ...”

Our Utah representatives are not representing us — Madison Nagel | For The Tribune

" ... But despite the clear wants of the majority, our Legislature is working hard to tear down the initiatives that voters passed in November. Why have we seen such backlash on both initiatives from our own representatives, even in spite of evident public support? The term “representative” implies that Utah’s Legislature should do just that: represent their voter base. And although the legislators’ constituents have made their feelings on both propositions known, Utah’s Legislature seems hellbent on reducing both initiatives to a mere fraction of what voters demonstrated they support. ..."

The GOP Keeps Changing The Rules After It Loses Elections — Jeffrey Young | Huffpost

“Last Election Day, 555,651 Utahns ― 53 percent of voters ― backed a measure to expand Medicaid to low-income adults in the state. Last Monday, 79 Republicans made it clear they don’t care what those voters wanted. ...

" ... Americans often complain that it feels like their votes don’t matter. Taken together, this pattern of conduct by Republicans sends an overt message to these voters that they’re right."

Pass. Repeal. Repeat: The GOP Cycle of Defying Voters on Medicaid Expansion — Mattie Quinn | Governing magazine

" ... While some Republicans in Georgia, Oklahoma and Wyoming are exploring the possibility of Medicaid expansion in their states, Idaho and Utah are undoing ballot measures that voters passed in November to expand Medicaid. ..."

A Utahan Who Needs Chemotherapy on What Happens If Her State Rejects Medicaid Expansion AgainAmanda Schaffer | The New Yorker

" ... I am anguished at the thought of the expansion being repealed. I can’t believe that lawmakers would completely ignore what the voters said they wanted. That’s the point of our government. That’s the point of voting! It’s a Republican trait to want to save money, but we have a surplus this year. There have been marches, there have been protests, there have been petitions — I don’t know what it would take to convince legislators. They’re looking at how much it will cost instead of seeing that there are people they can save. I’m one of those people.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tribune staff. George Pyle.

George Pyle is the editorial page editor of The Salt Lake Tribune. gpyle@sltrib.com

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