Utah Counties Verify Signatures Needed to Put Health Care Measure on the Ballot

The Utah Decides Healthcare initiative, which would bring health care to more than 150,000 Utahns, today officially surpassed the state’s signature threshold for placing measures on the November ballot.

The state requires 113,143 valid signatures, along with signature requirements that must be met in 26 of the 29 state senate districts. Utah counties released numbers today demonstrating that Utah Decides Healthcare has met those requirements. The campaign turned in more than 195,000 signatures collected across the state to qualify the initiative for the ballot in November.

Utah voters, including some who’ve been helped by Medicaid, celebrated today’s news.

“I helped collect signatures because Medicaid allowed me to get a kidney transplant which saved my life. Without Medicaid I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the level of self-reliance that allowed me to get married and start a family,” said Paul Gibbs a local Utahn and supporter of the initiative. He added that, “Utahns deserve the chance to vote on this, and decide what we want in health care in our state.”

The Utah Decides Healthcare initiative would bring Medicaid coverage to individuals earning less than $16,642 a year, or $33,900 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.

The initiative would also 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.

Dr. Kyle Jones, a practicing Family Physician in Salt Lake said, “All citizens of Utah deserve the many benefits that Medicaid expansion will bring. It will provide health care coverage to 150,000 people who sorely need it, bring millions of dollars back into the local economy, and improve the health of Utahns. All at a time when Utah’s overall health care grades are falling behind other states-it’s time for Utah to decide.”

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