A Republican Utah Senator Voted Opposite His Republican Senators on a Medicaid Expansion Rewrite. Here’s Why.
Media has not gone beyond a mention of a vote from a Utah Republican lawmaker that opposed all of the legislators of his party in the Utah Senate, over a much-publicized Medicaid expansion bill. GOP Utah Sen. Todd Weiler joined six Democrats, and opposed 22 Republicans (none voted with him), in his casting of lots against a bill numbered 3SB96. Weiler said after the Senate’s second-reading vote (he voted “nay” there, too) that he gave a heads-up about his vote to his superiors at least in Senate leadership. But Weiler said he voted as he did in a state perceived as largely authoritarian because “the voters in (his) district passed Proposition 3,” a Medicaid expansion law Utahns overall also approved this past election.
“I am a little bit cautious about undermining the will of the voters when it comes to the ACA,” Weiler told Beehive Blunders, referring to the Affordable Care Act, which led to the Prop. 3 law. “I don’t think there’s any necessary urgency to (change the law) right now.”
Weiler believes voters “understood they were voting for expansion.”
“I think they understood they were voting for a partial tax increase,” Weiler said. “Yes, while the tax increase doesn’t fund us through forever, it would fund us for the next couple of years. So I would have favored implementing it and then dealing with it in a year or two once we knew exactly how many people enrolled.”
The Prop. 3 statute is scheduled to be implemented on April 1 unless 3SB96 or another bill becomes law and thus effectively rewrites the Prop. 3 statute.
But make no mistake …
Weiler does have “serious concerns” about the Prop. 3 law. He said that the drafters of the statute did three “irresponsible” things that were not part of the ACA, also known as Obamacare.
“They included an automatic increase of about 5 percent for doctors who see Medicaid patients and that that was lobbied by special interest,” Weiler said. “And number two, they put a cap on what can be charged to families of children receiving (Children’s Health Insurance Program) benefits and the way it had been working in Utah was similar to food stamps.”
Weiler doesn’t think “most voters understood” that those two “add-ons” are adding more than $100 million to the cost, he said.
“And so if were going to amend Prop. 3, I would leave the ACA components in place and take out those special interest tack-ons,” he said.
Weiler also found it “somewhat irresponsible” that the Prop. 3 law drafters “didn’t include a hospital assessment even though the hospitals jointly came to the legislature two years ago and said ‘we’ll agree to $25 million to help offset the costs.’”
“So there’s winners and losers in Medicaid expansion and the clear winner is the hospitals,” Weiler said. “I think they could have helped soften the blow to taxpayers.”
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