Media Contacts

Kathy Wilets

Associate Director, Office of Public Affairs
Phone: 801-581-5717

Jul 11, 2014 3:43 PM

July 11, 2014-- At University of Utah Health Care (UUHC), our mission is to care for the sick and those in need. For this reason, we support Governor Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan, a private market alternative to expanding Medicaid. 

Utah is a healthy state. Its residents routinely earn top marks on wellness scorecards and spend less per capita on medical care than residents of any other state.

But Utahns living in poverty— including working adults and many students over age 26—cannot afford health insurance. They forego preventive care, end up in ERs, and place a tremendous financial burden on Utah hospitals. This cost is shifted to Utah businesses and citizens through higher insurance premiums.

The Affordable Care Act means that over the next 10 years Utahns will pay more than $6.4 billion for national Medicaid expansion— whether we like it or not. We can opt out of Medicaid expansion, but we can’t opt out of paying federal taxes.

Not including Utahns living at or below 138% of poverty means all Utahns pay twice— through federal taxes and through cost shifting.

“The math is simple,” says Vivian Lee, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, senior vice president for health sciences and CEO of UUHC. “We’ve already paid federal tax dollars into national Medicare and Medicaid programs. We continue to pay for uninsured Utahns’ health care needs. So why pay twice? We advocate keeping Utah dollars here, in our state, in our counties and in our cities, for the health of our citizens. It only makes sense.”

The Governor’s plan allows us to take advantage of our own tax dollars by keeping them in Utah, and deciding how that money is best spent. We believe all Utahns should have access to affordable health insurance—including those living at or below poverty. A recent statewide poll shows Utahns overwhelmingly support the Governor’s plan.

 University of Utah Hospital CEO David Entwistle says Healthy Utah makes good business sense. With expansion, a significant number of Utahns will have health insurance. Not only will this improve access to health care for thousands of low-income people, it will also save Utah over $814 million in uncompensated care costs and $39 million in public assistance costs over the next decade.

Who would qualify?

An individual with an annual income less than $16,105

A family of 4 with an annual income less than $32,913

A family of 6 with an annual income less than $44,119

How Healthy Utah Can Help

  • Ensure independence in health care decisions
  • Ensure accessibility to health care coverage

  • Strengthen the private commercial market

  • Maintain employer sponsored coverage
  • Limit negative financial impact to the state