Medicaid expansion qualifies for ballot in Utah

Medicaid expansion qualifies for ballot in Utah

A measure to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare in Utah will appear on the ballot in November after it was certified as having enough signatures.

Liberal groups hailed the announcement from the state’s lieutenant governor as they hope to make the deep-red state the 33rd to expand the health insurance program for the poor under the health law.

Medicaid expansion would extend coverage to about 150,000 people in the state.

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“Thousands of Utahns have added their signatures to the campaign, declaring it’s time that our most vulnerable families have access to high-quality and affordable health care through Medicaid,” said Frederick Isasi, executive director of the liberal advocacy group Families USA.

Utah is one of a handful of states that could be moving forward with Medicaid expansion. The Virginia legislature is poised to pass a measure as early as this week. And advocates in Idaho also say they have enough signatures to get a measure on the ballot this November.

Backers hope that more states will drop their resistance now that former President Obama is out of office and there is perhaps less fierce pushback to ObamaCare.

Utah organizers collected 147,280 signatures for the initiative.

The ballot measure is competing with a plan backed by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) to expand Medicaid only in part. Known as a “partial expansion,” that plan would expand Medicaid up to 100 percent of the federal poverty line, less far than the traditional expansion of up to 138 percent.

The partial expansion plan would need approval from the Trump administration, though, which has never approved such an idea and could be reluctant to approve any expansion of Medicaid.