Utah GOP votes to take away health care after voters chose to expand it


Republicans are so obsessed with gutting health care that they're willing to undermine the democratic process to do it.

The Republican-led Utah state Senate voted Monday to overturn the will of Utah residents, who overwhelmingly chose to help more people in their state get health insurance through the Medicaid expansion available under the Affordable Care Act.

Republican elected officials in Utah have long refused to accept the ACA's Medicaid expansion, which would cover as many as 150,000 low-income residents in the state. Utah voters got fed up with this inaction and passed a ballot initiative expanding Medicaid in November — but now Republican lawmakers are trying to narrow the pool of residents who are eligible to be covered, leaving roughly 70,000 people out in the cold.

Many Utahns are livid at Republican lawmakers for making "backroom deals designed to overturn the clear will of the voters," Andrew Roberts, spokesman for Utah Decides, told the Salt Lake City Tribune. Proponents of the Medicaid expansion recently spent $100,000 on television ads to criticize lawmakers seeking to undo the measure.

"I think it's time that we do what the people asked us to do and not play games," said state Sen. Gene Davis (D-Salt Lake City).

Davis and every Democrat in the Utah Senate opposed the bill, while every Republican but one voted for it. The bill now moves to the Utah House, where it is expected to pass.

Utah Republicans aren't alone; GOP lawmakers in other states have also made shockingly anti-democratic moves recently to avoid implementing ideas that are popular with voters.

In Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers called an emergency legislative session after the midterm elections to strip powers away from the incoming Democratic governor.

Republicans in Michigan also used a lame duck legislative session to shamelessly strip power from incoming Democratic officials. Local papers in the state criticized the naked power play.

Ever since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, Republicans across the country have done all they can to weaken it and reduce the number of people who can afford health insurance.

The GOP-led Congress tried to rip health care away from 23 million people and gut protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. After that sabotage effort failed, Republicans slipped measures to weaken the health care law into their unpopular tax scam.

Even in a traditionally Republican state like Utah, voters embraced the ACA's Medicaid expansion. But elected Republicans are so obsessed with their ideological agenda that they won't even listen to their own voters — and are still willing to do everything in their power to keep health care away from those who need it most.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.