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Utah Legislature
5:10 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Utah Senate Leaders Have No Decision On Medicaid Expansion

Sen. Ralph Okerlund (right) says no decision has been made on whether or not to expand Medicaid.
Credit APRIL ASHLAND / UTAH PUBLIC RADIO

Senate leaders said no big decisions have been made on Medicaid expansion, though no potential options have been ruled out.

On Friday, Senate majority leader Ralph Okerlund said Republicans have barely scratched the surface on that topic in Senate caucus meetings, and no position has been taken.

“At this point, I believe all of the options are still out there on the table for our caucus,” Okerlund said. “We’re still willing to look at everything, and I suspect that (among) our caucus members, you’d find that we’ve got a lot of different opinions on whether we should go, at this point, with one of the options or with full expansion.”

That attitude contrasts with Republican House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, who has stated that Utah should reject all federal money made available for Medicaid expansion. In a press conference on Thursday, Speaker Lockhart said members of the House of Representatives were looking a solution that is completely state-funded, without taking any money from the federal government—even federal revenue provided by Utah taxpayers. She’s optimistic that the House will find a “Utah solution.”

“We have members of our body in the House who are very good at this issue, who are very expertise on this issue, on healthcare and on Medicaid, and the implications of Medicaid and federal money and those kinds of things. We have them looking at solutions right now—a state-based solution,” Lockhart said.

Governor Gary Herbert ultimately has the final say on how the state will proceed with Medicaid expansion, but he has opted to allow the state legislature to come up with a plan during this session.

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