Ballot Measure to Expand Health Care Moves Forward

RyLee Curtis

Ballot Measure to Expand Health Care Moves Forward
Utah Decides Healthcare Signatures Are Submitted to Counties

Organizers submitted final signatures today for a November ballot initiative to bring health care to more than 150,000 Utahns.

The Utah Decides Healthcare initiative would bring Medicaid coverage to individuals earning less than $16,146 a year, or $33,383 for a family of four, many of whom are working parents or people whose jobs don’t provide health care. Many would get coverage for the first time and have not been able to see a doctor in years. The measure would help many rural Utahns who rely on hospitals and clinics, which face particularly high costs treating large numbers of uninsured patients. This measure is important because for the first time it gives Utah voters the chance to decide for ourselves what we want in health care in our state.

“I like that this is about Utah and making our own decisions locally. This will help people like me and others who are working hard, wanting to do our part, but need access to medical care.” said BYU student Stephanie Burdick.

Utah Decides Healthcare has turned in more than 165,000 signatures collected across the state to qualify the initiative for the ballot in November. The state requires 113,143 valid signatures and will officially announce the status of the measure in May after completing its standard review.

This initiative would bring back more than $800 million in federal money to Utah that would pay for at least 90 percent of the expansion. These funds have resulted in more jobs and greater economic activity in other states that expanded Medicaid. An increase in state sales tax, on non-food items, of less than two tenths of one cent — roughly one penny on the purchase of an average movie ticket, would fund the remainder.

“This is a good deal for Utah, and it is the right thing to do,” said Dr. Ray Ward and (R) UT Dist.19. “In addition to providing health care to 150,000 people, it will eliminate hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency and hospital costs for the uninsured that Utah taxpayers pay for right now.”

VISUALS: B-roll video of Utah residents collecting signatures for the ballot initiative is available.