Citizens Ask Utah Lawmakers to Act Now to Close Coverage Gap

18 July 2014 Written by  

A large crowd gathered at the State Capitol building yesterday for the Utah legislature's Health Reform Task Force meeting—the tenth meeting of its kind to discuss Medicaid expansion. This meeting focused on the governor's Healthy Utah plan, an alternative for closing the coverage gap that is popular with Utah voters.




Michael Hales and Nathan Checketts of the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) provided an overview of the governor's proposed Healthy Utah plan. (If you are not familiar with the Healthy Utah plan, this 2-minute video by the University of Utah is a great way to brush up.)


The UDOH officials pointed out that covering all eligible people is the best economic option for Utah government and businesses.


Dr. Norm Waizman of the University of Utah, Department of Economics presented a demographic report about the 103,000 uninsured people under 133% of poverty level who would benefit from the Healthy Utah plan or Medicaid expansion. Most come from working families.




Dr. Vivian Lee, CEO of University of Utah Health Systems, testified that charity care expenses are rising and uninsured Utahns arrive at the emergency room when their illnesses are too advanced for inexpensive care. The Healthy Utah plan could provide means for Utahns to get preventive, early treatment. (This 1 1/2 minute video explains more about the University Healthcare perspective.)


Paul Gibbs, a filmmaker who survived a life-threatening medical condition, presented an excerpt of a film he made about the experiences of Utahns suffering without treatment for their medical problems because they fall within the Medicaid coverage gap. He named the film Entitled to Life because he believes that everyone should have the right to stay alive.


David Heslington, a Mormon bishop, spoke about members of his congregation who are not getting healthcare until it is too late. "The status quo is not humane," he said, asking lawmakers to act quickly to adopt the Healthy Utah plan or expand Medicaid coverage.

Accompanied by her two children, single parent Melanie Soule told lawmakers of the struggles she experienced when she became too ill to perform her job. Soule is profiled in this Salt Lake Tribune article:

Advocates call for Medicaid expansion or for Herbert's alternative plan as thousands learn they earn too little—or too much—to qualify for aid.



April Young Bennett 300April Young Bennett, Communications Director, joined the organization in 2014. She received her Master of Public Administration from the University of Arizona and her Bachelor in Community Health Education from Utah State University. Prior to joining Voices for Utah Children, April worked for the Utah Department of Health for over a decade, addressing health disparities among minorities and other underserved Utahns. She completed internships and fellowships with the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy and the U.S. Senate.