Acting charitably is the Utah way. Our willingness to extend a helping hand is only curbed by our respect for fiscal responsibility. Without the latter, the former is unsustainable. True leadership recognizes this delicate balance and governs accordingly. That is why I’m proud of the leadership demonstrated by Speaker Greg Hughes. That is also why I’m proud of the careful consideration my House colleagues displayed in rejecting Medicaid expansion.
I was, however, surprised to see The Salt Lake Tribune — an institution that clearly understands the importance of living within its means given its recent layoffs — question Speaker Hughes’ leadership for doing precisely what the newspaper has done in the interest of long-term viability.
Even more surprising was the Trib’s apparent refusal to provide a factual basis for its conclusions, instead opting to use its word quota to attack people’s character and motivations. For those who prefer civil, fact-based dialogue to demagoguery, here are the key reasons House Republicans believe Medicaid expansion, as proposed, is a bad deal for Utah.
Of those states that have availed themselves of the “free” federal funds, enrollment is 91 percent higher than projected on average, with some as high as 200 percent above projection. Higher-than-expected enrollment translates to a higher-than-expected tab for states. When the federal government scales back federal funding for expansion in 2017, the financial albatross that is Medicaid expansion will either lead to tax increases or jeopardize other programs like education. And with congressional efforts to scale back enhanced funding for Obamacare expansion, there’s no guarantee the federal government will honor its already insufficient commitment long term.
Economics aside, Medicaid expansion (in the forms presented) is bad social policy. Obamacare precludes a state from implementing a work requirement for the able-bodied recipients of Medicaid expansion.
We are the Beehive State for a reason. Utah values hard work and industry — without them, this desert never blossoms into the rose it is today. Incentivizing people not to work has not only proven to increase unemployment and decrease income among populations, but it’s also a disservice to the very people these types of programs are designed to help.
Instead of reaping the benefits of full-time employment and distancing themselves from dependency, those who are able-bodied are further engulfed in a cycle of government dependency that often spans generations.
Of course, there are people that are genuinely in need. We have and will continue to ensure society’s most vulnerable are reasonably provided for. Paradoxically, however, the greatest threat to those who currently receive and most need government assistance is Medicaid expansion. Trying to do too much for too many people — without a reliable funding source — is the best way to ensure little to no healthcare for all.
Judging by its editorial, it seems the Trib’s definition of leadership is penning a fact-challenged editorial that recklessly tosses around words like “corrupt” and “bribe,” yet fails to offer substantive alternative solutions.
Utah’s House Republican’s brand of leadership, on the other hand, is adequately considering not only the short-term benefit of Medicaid expansion, but also the long-term ramifications of adopting an unsustainable model that could potentially create a bigger problem than the one it originally sought to solve.
I, for one, certainly prefer the latter type of leadership.
Brad Wilson is the House Majority Assistant Whip representing House District 15 in Davis County.