The coalition, a group of organizations that represent Utah's children, elderly and disabled, delivered a letter to the governor on Wednesday, saying that Medicaid expansion in Utah is the "fiscally responsible thing to do to fully support" families in the state.
"Two budgets will provide full transparency to the public and the Legislature regarding the fiscal implications of the expansion," the letter states. "Utahns need to be informed of the lost opportunity if the state rejects Medicaid expansion this year.
A Utah Department of Health-commissioned study completed earlier this year found that expanding Medicaid to an additional 123,000 Utahns could save the state more than $11 million in fiscal year 2015.
The governor said that's worth considering, but added: "I don't know that it's going to tip the scales one way or the other. In a $13 billion budget, $11 million is not enough to redirect our priorities but it's certainly a sizable amount of money."
It is estimated that nearly 60,000 currently uninsured Utahns would not be able to afford health insurance if the state does not adopt an expansion of Medicaid.
Herbert pledged his Medicaid expansion plan will take care of the most vulnerable Utahns but also protect taxpayers, both in the short and long term. "I think people do need to be taken care of," he said.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, states have the option to expand eligibility requirements to insure more low-income adults. The federal government has said it would cover the total cost of expanding coverage for at least the first three years and up to 90 percent coverage after that for the newly insured individuals.
States where leaders do not choose to expand coverage eligibility would leave the available federal funds on the table. Lawmakers and others have questioned whether the state should make a decision hinging on uncertain federal funds.
Contributing: Richard Piatt
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