ObamaCare Medicaid expansion dies in Utah

ObamaCare Medicaid expansion dies in Utah
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An effort in Utah to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare has died after Republicans in the state House of Representatives rejected a compromise proposal. 

House Speaker Gregory Hughes (R) told The Salt Lake Tribune that only seven of 63 House Republicans supported the plan in a closed-door meeting to gauge support on Tuesday night. 

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Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has for months been looking for a way to expand Medicaid, but with the rejection of this latest compromise effort, there is no clear path forward. 

Thirty states have so far expanded Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, under ObamaCare. The expansion widens eligibility up to 138 percent of the poverty line, or about $33,000 for a family of four. 

The Obama administration has pressured states to expand the program, promising to work with them on compromises that put conservative twists on the program. 

Utah had appeared the most likely state to be next to accept the expansion. The other 19 states are largely led by Republicans who resist expansion, often citing its cost. 

Under the Utah compromise proposal, people would receive financial assistance to purchase private health insurance, as opposed to the traditional Medicaid approach of government-provided insurance. 

The plan would also have helped pay for expansion with a new tax on health providers, under the theory that they stand to gain from having newly insured patients. That provision met resistance from Republicans in the legislature. 

"Everyone loves expanding Medicaid until they have to pay for it,” Hughes told The Salt Lake Tribune, while vowing that the expansion effort would continue.