Utah woman sends strong message to governor about Medicaid expansion

Posted at 10:29 PM, Nov 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-02 00:29:40-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A West Valley woman makes a strong statement to the Governor about Medicaid expansion: She said passing up the federal funding could be a death sentence for her.

At the same time, several groups rallied at Gov. Gary Herbert's mansion Friday, who has yet to decide whether or not to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion. That uncertainty is weighing heavily on Lori Izarraras.

Izarraras said she relies on Medicaid, and she fears what the future may hold for her.

"I'm pretty scared," she said. “"I have kidney failure."

She depends on Medicaid. The money she receives from Medicaid all goes to take care of her ailing kidneys. From doctor’s appointments to medication and hospital stays, without it her health would decline.

"My health would decline more, and possibly kidneys shutting down,” she said. “I wouldn't have the money to do a kidney transplant or dialysis."

Maryann Martindale is the executive director for the Alliance for a Better Utah, and she said the governor should accept the funding.

"If he doesn't expand Medicaid, we have almost 130,000 Utahans that are going to go without coverage," she said.

Her group, along with several others, got together Friday afternoon in front of the governor's mansion with one goal, which was to show their support for expanding Medicaid. They said the stakes are high for every Utah taxpayer.

"If we rely on emergency care to take care of those, my premiums go up, your premiums go up, everyone else pays for that," Martindale said. "It's not a non-expense item. This is urgent. This covers a section of the population that is falling through the cracks."

"Medicaid isn't just for lazy people; there's really honest people out there that need it, people like me," Izarraras said.

She said Medicaid is her lifeline, and she's hoping the governor understands just how important his decision will be.

"I would ask him to please give me a chance to live at least for my grand babies because I also take care of them, and I need to be here for my grand babies, my partner, and my family” she said. “I don't want a death sentence because he doesn't want to do this, you know?"

The Governor's Office released the following statement regarding the issue:

“The Governor wants to make the right decision for Utah that strikes a proper balance between helping the most vulnerable residents and being responsible with the taxpayers’ dollars. The decision making process set forth by the Governor has been deliberative and inclusive. He is reviewing the Medicaid expansion options presented at the Governor’s Health Summit and working with legislators to ensure the right decision is made for the people of Utah.”

The groups that gathered for Friday's rally created a new website people can visit to pledge their support for expanding Medicaid.