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Healthcare Advocates Touring Utah To Discuss Medicaid Expansion

Courtney Bullard of the Utah Health Policy Project at a meeting in Logan on Tuesday.
Chris Polansky
Utah Public Radio
Courtney Bullard of the Utah Health Policy Project at a meeting in Logan on Tuesday.

Healthcare advocates are touring the state of Utah this summer, meeting with citizens, healthcare providers and community leaders concerned that the state’s rollback of Medicaid expansion will harm vulnerable Utahns.

“The legislature will tell you they closed the coverage gap and fixed the problem, but they didn’t," said Stacy Stanford, a health policy analyst with the Utah Health Policy Project. "They tell us they built a bridge across the coverage gap, but we’re living this, and we know they built a broken bridge.”

Stanford and her team kicked off a statewide tour this week with a visit to Cache County. 

“We know that Medicaid expansion has support all across the state," she said. "It passed all over, including pockets of Logan and Cache County.”

Stanford and her team met for lunch in downtown Logan on Tuesday for a freewheeling conversation with a Utah State University health policy researcher. The group discussed the state GOP’s reversal of Proposition 3, which passed at the polls last November, with Utahns decisively voting for full Medicaid expansion.

This year, Republican lawmakers and Governor Gary Herbert repealed Proposition 3. The state is seeking a waiver from the federal government that advocates say will leave tens of thousands of Utahns without access to health coverage.  

“Utah has a very compassionate, love-your-neighbors type of culture," Stanford said. "Therefore, we voted to love our neighbors and to help pay for our neighbors to have this lifesaving healthcare. Meanwhile, our attorney general is going to court to fight to tear it all down.”

Still, Stanford said she's optimistic that full Medicaid expansion will eventually become a reality in Utah.

“What the legislature is trying to do," Stanford said, "is completely illegal, it’s completely immoral, it’s not cost-effective, and in the end they’re going to lose."