‘We need Medicaid expansion:’ Medical professionals door-knock for Prop. 3

SALT LAKE CITY – Medical professionals went door-to-door in SLC Saturday to rally support for Proposition 3, a ballot initiative that would raise the sales tax for Medicaid expansion.

The expansion would give an additional 150,000, low-income Utahns healthcare coverage.

These volunteers believe it’s crucial for Utahns to vote ‘yes’ on Proposition 3.

“The number of lives I’m watching be destroyed because they can’t pay for their hospital bills and they have to try to sell their belongings to try to get placement, it’s heartbreaking and I know that we can do this,” said Aimee McLean, the President of the Utah Nurses Association.

Medicaid expansion has been a hot topic for Utah. The Utah chapter of Americans for Prosperity believes Prop. 3 would overcrowd the system and leave taxpayers to foot the bill.

In a statement to Fox13 the group said:

"Medicaid was designed to provide health care to low-income pregnant women, children, the elderly and the disabled. But under Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion rules, states are unable to protect taxpayers and patients by limiting enrollment to those who are truly in need. As enrollment exceeds estimates, Utah taxpayers will be forced to foot the bill while patients are stuck in an overcrowded system.

Nearly 650,000 individuals are stuck on Medicaid waiting lists nationwide. If Utah passes Prop 3, there would be more of our truly needy and vulnerable trapped waiting for care they desperately need. Prop 3 would not only harm our wallets, but it would also harm those who need affordable healthcare the most."

Medicaid expansion has also faced a lot of opposition from Utah's state legislature.

“The legislature [is] afraid that it would cost too much money or do something we don’t like,” said Brownstein.

Utah is one of 18 states who chose to opt out of providing the full expansion, which was laid out by the federal government in the Affordable Care Act.

“The legislature has been making little tiny efforts, but most of the people have been left out of that,” Brownstein said.

Instead, the legislature passed a bill featuring a modified and restricted Medicaid expansion plan—providing coverage for 70,000 more Utahans, as opposed to 150,000.

“We need Medicaid expansion,” said McLean.

Still, the expansion can only happen if the sales tax goes up. A 0.15-percent sales tax raise on non-food items.

“It comes out to like a penny and a half on ten dollars, it’s the change in your car. It really isn’t all that much,” McLean said.

Still, Bronstein said the cost has proved to be an issue for some voters.

“The biggest issue is probably cost. What is it going to cost us? What is it going to mean?” Bronstein said.

Others say the cost is small compared to the services it provides to Utahns in need.

“To provide healthcare for your neighbors with the pennies in the cup in your car, it’s pretty amazing,” McLean said.

Voter ballots can be mailed back by Nov. 5 (with a date stamp). Residents can also vote in-person at polling locations through November 6.