Utahns file paperwork to take control of key healthcare reforms Ballot initiative let’s Utahns decide

Salt Lake City, UT: Utahns took a big step toward taking control of a key part of healthcare Monday as the Utah Decides Healthcare ballot proposal was officially filed with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office.

If approved by voters on election day in November 2018, the proposal will ensure medical care for all individuals and families in Utah with incomes less than 138% of the federal poverty line. This means an individual with less than $16,642 in income, or a family of four with an income less than $33,948 will be eligible for Medicaid.

The measure will also bring in some $804 million in federal Medicaid dollars that Utahns are currently paying and sending to Washington and not getting back. A slight increase in Utah sales tax to raise $91 million will trigger the $804 million federal Medicaid contribution.  The combination of state and federal funding will create a strong and reliable healthcare safety net so that no Utah family needs to worry about getting sick or injured and falling through the cracks.

The measure will raise the sales tax in Utah from 4.7% to 4.85% to cover the cost of bringing medical coverage to tens of thousands of Utahns. Citizens will pay less than two cents for every 10 dollars they spend, with food expenses excluded. So, if you pay $20 for movie tickets, this initiative will cost you an extra three cents.

The initiative will provide vitally needed healthcare to our most vulnerable citizens; hard-working families and low-income individuals who need it the most. It will also enable rural hospitals to remain open and create new jobs.

It is necessary for Utahns to bring local control to the healthcare debate because Congress has been paralyzed on healthcare policy, unable to pass reforms that help uninsured families and those that struggle with rising premiums. Utah voters must decide what’s best for their families.

Utah Sen. Brian Shiozawa, an emergency room physician, is one of the initiative’s sponsors. He said he is a sponsor because, “Whether we’re talking about the tens of thousands of poor and uninsured people or the homeless population, if we want to make a significant dent in the uninsured, cure the homeless problem and improve healthcare in general in the State of Utah, then we need to have some type of Medicaid solution.

“With this initiative, critical medical care for those who need it the most can still happen even though Congress has failed to act. Like it or not, we’re still going to be paying federal taxes. We can either be proactive and get some of our federal tax dollars coming back to Utah in the form of federal match grants or we can sit here doing nothing and watch our homelessness problem and overall health care worsen, while continuing to pay these taxes. That makes no sense at all.
“I think we ought to let the people of Utah have a say in this. If they vote for it or vote against it, then we know they’ve spoken. Let them have the opportunity to vote.”

To get on the November 2018 ballot, the campaign must get 113,143 signatures on petitions by April 16, 2018. Signature-gathering will begin as soon as the Lieutenant Governor’s Office provides necessary approval.