SB 96: Guardrails Around Medicaid Expansion
This bill passed the Senate 22-7 and the House 56-19.
Proposition 3, which expanded Medicaid in Utah, passed last November with 53% of the vote. The proposition included an increase in the sales tax rate, which is not enough to cover costs.
As we have previously written, Medicaid was designed to help the most needy and vulnerable among us to obtain health care. But in states that have already expanded Medicaid, priority is instead being given to working age, able-bodied, single adults with no children. The needy are often put on a waiting list — and in Utah, there are already 2,900 disabled people waiting.
Senator Allen Christensen is sponsoring Senate Bill 96, which places some guardrails around the program’s implementation. Because the Legislature is constitutionally mandated to balance the budget each year, SB 96 is aimed at ensuring enrollment does not expand to the point where the state is unable to meet other budgetary obligations because of increasing costs from the Medicaid program.
SB 96 directs the state to continue seeking a waiver of federal Medicaid rules in order to provide greater flexibility in implementation and introduce caps to ensure the state budget is not unexpectedly affected.
Because of Prop 3, the state is unable to protect taxpayers when enrollment exceeds estimates — which has happened in every state that has expanded Medicaid. And Utah taxpayers would be forced to foot the large bill, beyond the current tax increase that was approved by a majority of voters.
For that reason, Medicaid expansion needs some serious guardrails placed around it, which SB 96 seeks to accomplish.