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Utah Medicaid expansion debate continues

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Posted at 11:47 AM, Mar 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-10 13:47:52-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- As the last week of the legislative session begins, lawmakers are making decisions on expanding Medicaid in Utah.

The Senate had a chance to weigh in on Gov. Gary Herbert's "Healthy Utah" plan, which is his answer to Medicaid expansion. While most lawmakers support Senate Bill 251, some said it was the best of the bad options on the table.

Democrats made an effort to scrap the bill altogether, and instead provide full Medicaid coverage to 55,000 Utahns who fall in the Medicaid gap. Their proposal was shot down.

If SB 251 is approved, Herbert can negotiate with the federal government and request a block grant-- a lump sum of money passed from federal to state governments designated for a specific purpose.

The Senate passed the bill with a 19 to six vote. Now it's up to the full House, where it's expected to hit a road block. Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart said Utah should reject federal dollars and use state funds.

FOX 13's Tamara Vaifanua was at the State Capitol Monday. Watch her full report in the clip above.