2013 Legislature: Lockhart and Niederhauser on Medicaid expansion

During the 2013 Sutherland Institute Legislative Policy Conference, House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser shared their thoughts on whether they believe Utah should accept Medicaid expansion as part of Obamacare’s implementation. See video below:

They both stated strongly they prefer to receive a block grant that would allow Utah to craft its own solutions. Since 2006, Sutherland has written extensively on the power of an authentic charity care system that would feature the private sector helping our fellow Utahns in need, in lieu of government expansion.

Question: What’s the prospect for Medicaid expansion in the state of Utah from the Legislature’s perspectives?

Speaker Lockhart: I don’t think that we as a Legislature have had a chance to talk about that in general, but I can tell you that for me personally, I’m very concerned about a Medicaid expansion. And I know most of the time that comes off as, “Well, all you care about is money, you don’t care about people who need help.” And that’s absolutely not the case. I mean, we understand there are people who need help. There are people, who for no fault of their own — you know, society needs to have an appropriate safety net for individuals and that’s an appropriate role.

The problem is that the federal government’s temptation that they’re giving us with this Medicaid expansion doesn’t do anything to address the core issues in Medicaid, which is the perverse incentives and the model, the fee-for-service model, that we have there. It just perpetuates it, it makes it worse.

I’m a person who would love nothing more than a block grant from the federal government. Just give us the money that you’re going to give and let the states individually decide the kind of Medicaid program that is right for their population. And I believe that with the money that we already have, we could serve those that they are asking us to, to expand to, but we would do it in a better way that’s more specific to the Utah population. Our population and our needs [are] different than New Jersey, clearly, or Florida, or Texas. Right?

So, one of the great challenges with Medicaid other than the perverse incentives and all of that is the one-size-fits-all. If they would give us some freedom to create a Medicaid program in the states that are unique to the states, it would go a long way to cover more people.

Senate President Niederhauser: I agree completely with the Speaker. We’ve talked a lot about the Medicaid expansion, and what that means for Utah. I challenge the federal government: Block grant us the money. Let us show you what we can do with that money. We can expand Medicaid populations with the same money. I can guarantee that.

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