SALT LAKE CITY (March 14, 2013) – The Utah legislature passed a bill that would slow any decision on expanding Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but stopped short of prohibiting expansion all together.
The Senate voted 22-0-2 to approve HB0391 on Wednesday, and the House concurred with a Senate amendment the same day by a 51-23-1 vote. The bill now goes on to Gov. Gary Herbert for a signature.
The legislation prohibits expansion of Medicaid by the governors office without several criteria being met, including the completion of several studies and notification of the legislature in compliance with the legislative review process.
The original bill introduced by Rep. Jake Anderegg (R-Lehi) would have blocked expansion completely. The softer language was introduced in the upper chamber by Sen. Todd Weiler (R-Woods Cross), who indicated he thought state policymakers should take more time before making a final decision.
“I am not advocating for Medicaid expansion, I’m advocating to slow down this process,” Weiler said. “Let’s slow down, take a breath, make an educated decision and include the public.”
Earlier this month, Herbert indicated he wanted more time to analyze options before making a decision.
“I would just counsel them all to let us go through this thoughtful, methodical study where we have all the information on the table and then make a decision,” he said.
Large numbers of states refusing to implement health insurance exchanges and expand Medicaid would make federal implementation of the PPACA very difficult, effectively nullifying the program. But many state governors and lawmakers find the allure of federal money, even if only for the short-term, impossible to resist.
“State representatives and governors are constantly complaining about federal overreach and mandates. They have a golden opportunity to take control of their own health care systems simply by refusing to cooperate with the feds. Yet we see many of these same state policymakers tripping over each other to feed at the federal trough,” Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey said. “It’s pitiful. They have the power within their grasp to stop Obamacare in its tracks. This is no time to waver.”