House GOP leadership unveils Medicaid expansion alternative
Members of the House caucus expressed no serious concerns about the complicated plan, explained to them through handouts that included a flow chart and a page-long summary.
"Medicaid expansion is a lose-lose issue," said Rep. Stewart Barlow, R-Fruit Heights.
Barlow, a doctor, estimated the state would only need to provide coverage to about 10,000 people, what he termed a "manageable" number.
Sanpei said the House plan is an attempt to increase access to the state's "most vulnerable" residents without the strings attached to Medicaid expansion dollars.
"Federal money is not free," he said.
That's an important message for Republicans to hear, University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank said, one that will help Lockhart should she decide to run for governor.
"It's probably very good politics for her," Burbank said of the House plan. "Even if the governor says, 'OK, we’re going to move to expand Medicaid and away we go,' she's at least able to say, 'Well, I had an alternative to that.'"
Burbank said while expanding Medicaid may seem like a "reasonably straightforward idea," many in the GOP view it as backing a Democratic program.
"Clearly, that's one of the reasons the governor has delayed and delayed on this," he said.
The House plan at least acknowledges the issue, Burbank said, in a way that allows Republicans to stay away from the federal government while not appearing "entirely cold-hearted."
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