Monday, March 11, 2013

2013 Utah Legislative Update: Herbert, Lawmakers Head for Showdown Over Medicaid Decision - UPDATED

Health care train wreck looms in the state legislature
[Rep.] Anderegg said he incurred "tens of thousands of dollars" of medical debt during a five-year stint without health insurance and said he told creditors, "I will pay what I can." He still owes $232. "People who think they cannot get coverage without [the Affordable Care Act], that's just not true," Anderegg said. "But it takes integrity, and it takes people who are willing to work and make sure they can get things paid off."
While we’re glad that Representative Anderegg, who lists his occupation on the legislature’s website as “sales manager,” was able to pay off his medical bill, it is absolutely inconceivable, and irrational, to expect those [with low incomes] to take on additional bills just so they can stay alive.

Fascinating 2013 showdown looming between Utah's executive and legislative branches, as Utah House Rep. Jake Anderegg (R-Lehi) advances his HB391 out of committee and onto the State House floor for a vote scheduled for this very afternoon.  Anderegg's bill is founded upon what we'll label the "Twin Towers of GOP Health Care 'Reason,'" i.e., 1) the purely ideological notion that all federal money is per se bad, and 2) 130,000 uninsured Utahns don't need the health insurance anyway, because people with "integrity" and a "willingness to work" (people like Anderegg, that is) can "make sure they can get things paid off," even without health insurance.

Legislative passage of this bill would of course deprive Governor Herbert of the opportunity of carefully study the pros and cons of "taking a slow, studied approach" as to the issue of whether to expand Utah's medicaid insurance program to include federal "Obamacare" subsidization of up to 100 percent, and would even more importantly, kill the Medicaid implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the State of Utah entirely.

Check out the full Standard-Examiner story here, which frames this showdown as something of a potential political train wreck:
Added Double Bonus:  HB391 not only "comes with a warning from legislative lawyers that it is likely unconstitutional," but also Anderegg and his Utah legislative colleagues won't be personally effected by the bill's outcome anyhow, inasmuch as these fine, highly GOP-principled legislators (and their families) "receive health insurance through the state, which is heavily subsidized and primarily paid for by the taxpayers. The coverage lasts as long as they remain in office, until they reach the 10 year mark, after which they get to keep their taxpayer-subsidized coverage for life," as yesterday's most excellent Utah Political Capitol editorial carefully notes:
The floor's open, O Gentle Ones.  So what about it? Will our Utah legislature stick with its continuing anti-federalism posturings and reject what amounts to a federal health care economic windfall? Or will our our state legislature adopt the sensible practical approach of House Rep. Dixon Pitcher (R-Ogden)who says, regarding a Obamacare, "At some point we’ve got to … say, ‘Yeah, we really did lose?’" 

And if this bill actually does somehow successfully clear the legislature, will Governor Herbert have the political courage to wield the "veto pen and Just Say No?

Lotsa good questions to consider this morning, eh, folks?

Update 3/11/13 12:05 p.m.:  Uh-oh.  We just learned from our friends at Alliance for a Better Utah (ABU) that "46 members of the Utah House of Representatives just voted to refuse expansion of Medicaid and eliminate the Governor and public from the decision. This needs greater study and thorough public discussion."

We join ABU in recommending that you "contact Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, and ask him to oppose this unwise and mean-spirited bill," now that it's on its way to the State Senate:


Ogden Lover said...

Maybe the State phone operators were just out to lunch, but no one answered and the "press 1 to leave a message" just rolled over to "press 7 to hear your message".  

Sending an email gets you a survey from the State.  Not a bad survey either.  No push polling.

Nathan Oxzen said...

I notice that it is always becoming more difficult to obtain affordable health insurance in Utah. There is a Utah health insurance company that is tackling this problem by adopting a model similar to credit unions.

We will see how healthcare reform, healthcare subsidies, and state insurance exchanges will affect other Utah health insurance companies. This company will most likely provide better rates than most. I included a link to their website below.

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