SALT LAKE CITY — The GOP leadership-backed replacement for the voter-approved full Medicaid expansion ballot initiative easily cleared its final legislative hurdle Monday and was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert a few hours later.
The Senate voted 22 to 7 to concur with changes made in the House last week to the more limited Medicaid expansion in SB96 amid protests from supporters of the initiative known as Proposition 3, sending the bill to the governor.
“I think we are doing the long-term, responsible thing,” the sponsor of SB96, Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, said earlier Monday before the bill’s final passage, following about 20 minutes of debate in the Senate.
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, answers questions about SB96, the GOP leadership-backed replacement for the voter-approved Medicaid expansion ballot initiative, during discussion on the bill at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. The Senate concurred, 22 to 7, to changes made in the House last week amid protests from supporters of Proposition 3, sending the bill to the governor for his action.
Herbert signed the bill during in a private ceremony in his office midafternoon, before a group that included Republican lawmakers and state officials, along with community and faith leaders.
The ceremony was closed to the news media and not announced publicly. The bill, which now includes what’s being called a fallback plan that resembles Proposition 3, took effect as soon as it was signed into law.
Before signing the bill, the governor met with a small group of faith leaders to discuss the bill. Late last month, representatives of some 40 faiths added their names to a letter opposing efforts to “delay or limit” full Medicaid expansion.
The Right Rev. Scott B. Hayashi, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, a Proposition 3 sponsor who signed that letter, said after meeting with the governor that SB96 “is significantly greater than (where) I feared we would be.”
The Rev. Hayashi, who also attended the governor’s bill signing, said he “would prefer, of course, the full expansion. And at the same time, I recognize the forces that were at play. So where we got to now, as opposed to a complete repeal, I’m very pleased.”
Also at the bill signing was Matt Slonaker, executive director of the Utah Health Policy Project. Slonaker said while the bill is “not perfect,” he wanted to recognize those working for Medicaid expansion and to protect Proposition 3 from repeal.
The House added the fallback plan Friday to the bill in case the needed federal approval fails to come through from Washington for the more limited Medicaid expansion called for in the original Senate bill.
In the Senate, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, compared the full Medicaid expansion passed by voters last November to someone wanting a Maserati when there’s only money for a Ford, as a result of the 0.15 percent sales tax increase in Proposition 3.
“The challenge is, they didn’t approve a large enough tax …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News