Utah citizens discuss Medicaid with lawmakers

Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-04 00:27:10-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Citizens had the chance to tell Utah lawmakers what they think of the portion of the Affordable Care Act that expands Medicaid, which is the healthcare program for the poor, on Friday.

Ogden resident Kelie Babcock was one of those citizens. Babcock is a college graduate who works to help people with disabilities.

Babcock has a personal interest in this issue: She was born with a birth defect, and the equipment she requires is expensive.  So much so that when she was offered an internship in Washington D.C., she had to turn it down.

“It paid a decent amount, but I would have lost my Medicaid benefits,” she said.

If Babcock makes too much money she loses her benefits, which pay for the machines and medicines that keep her alive, which keeps her trapped on the edge of poverty.

Babcock was one of the people at the State Capitol on Friday to share her views. Utah is one of nine states that seem likely to turn down funds to expand Medicaid, according to the Center for Budget Policy Priorities.  

Some state legislators are concerned that the federal money would obligate the state to meet future expenses. The expansion would make an estimated 105,000 people newly eligible for Medicaid, and in the first six years it could cost Utah as much as $200 million, which is about 4 percent more than Utah is already scheduled to spend. The Federal government would also spend $4.6 billion in Utah.

Babcock said she is a conservative, and she understands these concerns, but for her this isn’t a political issue.

“That makes all the difference in the world between life and death, really when it comes down to it, but also having a good quality of life.”