SALT LAKE CITY (Good Medical) – Utah on Monday decided to radically change the Medicaid extension approved by voters, halving the number of people covered and adding work demands that the administration Trump should approve.
The Republican government Gary Herbert signed the plan a few hours after getting a final vote in the Republican-led legislature, calling it both "human and sustainable".
This is a vocal protest by lawyers who say the changes go further than any of the other four conservative states where voters expanded Medicaid after their legislators refused.
"It's a dark day for democracy in Utah," said Andrew Roberts, spokesperson for the Utah Decides group. "State legislators have turned their backs on voters and families in need."
The legislator's plan would extend Medicaid coverage to an additional 80,000 people, just over half of those covered by voters' vote in November, Republican Senator Dan Hemmert said.
An additional 70,000 people can instead purchase heavily subsidized health insurance from the federal health care market created under President Barack Obama's health care law, he said.
"I think we are acting responsibly in the long run," said Republican Senator Allen Christensen, who has championed the changes that have easily allowed the GOP-dominated Legislature to move closer to party positions. .
He added that changes are needed to control future costs. Voters have also approved an increase in the sales tax to pay for the expansion, but a subsequent analysis of the state has shown that it will miss $ 10 million by 2021.
The lawyers argue that there is a lot of money to roll out the program and that in case of failure, adjustments could be made in the future.
The voting measure would have fully extended Medicaid to about 150,000 people earning less than $ 17,000 a year.
The legislation accommodates people who earn just over $ 12,000 a year and adds spending limits and work requirements. Utah's plan depends on the federal government's relinquishments to reduce expansion, add work requirements and make other changes. It also includes millions of dollars to maintain the April 1 deployment date.
Legislators say that they have received assurances that the Trump administration will approve the waivers, but if they fail, the measure would amount to much of what the voters had originally approved.
The Utah movement stands out among the four conservative-dominated states where voters have adopted the Medicaid extension through the ballot box, according to The Fairness Project, a group that has supported the four proposals.
In Maine, the former Republican governor first blocked this effort, but it is now enforcing, said executive director Jonathan Schleifer.
Two other Republican states also adopted similar expansion measures in November. The deployment is proceeding as planned in Nebraska, while lawmakers in Idaho are planning to put in place a bill that would put an end to its expansion if the federal government changed the price paid for the program.
In Utah, the changes mean that people like Christie Sorensen, 28, do not have access to Medicaid. She can not work full time because she is still recovering from an exhausting episode of cancer, but her part-time income is just above the poverty line, about $ 13,000.
She must give up the tests, oxygen and medications recommended by her doctor because she can not afford to buy them. She bought the federal market, but with her medical needs and her meager income, health care is out of reach, even with grants.
"I am making money every month to support myself, and I am being punished for it," said Sorensen, who is also a volunteer with the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network. "I just feel forgotten."