Medicaid meeting on the Hill “kind of off the table”

Posted at 5:59 PM, Feb 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-11 11:13:46-05

SALT LAKE CITY - A meeting between House and Senate Republicans on Medicaid expansion and related plans is "kind of off the table," House leaders said.

House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan , R-Taylorsville, told reporters on Tuesday that there were no immediate plans for the two sides to get together behind closed doors to discuss the issue. On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Republicans met behind closed doors in caucus to talk about competing bills.

Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, has Senate Bill 153, which he said would fund "the most needy group below 100 percent of poverty." Christensen told reporters on Tuesday that he knew his bill was not popular with some.

"I have been called a significant number of names for my cold heartedness. I merited this beautiful attack flier sent to everyone in my district," he said, showing a mailer sent out recently criticizing his plan.

Also appearing with Senate leadership, Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Salt Lake City, touted his Senate Bill 164, which is similar to a plan pushed by Governor Gary Herbert called "Healthy Utah." 

"I’m always optimistic about this particular plan. It’s a good plan and to paraphrase the governor, of the choices, none of these are perfect. But this makes the best choice of the options we have been presented," he said.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, told reporters that he supported Healthy Utah.

"Right now, there’s only one viable possibility and that’s the Healthy Utah proposal," he said. "But I’m not shutting the door on other options."

House Republicans, meanwhile, have differing views. Without a big meeting involving a vast majority of lawmakers on Utah's Capitol Hill, they are left to decide in the House GOP caucus. It is expected to be discussed next week -- behind closed doors.

House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, defended that decision.

"There’s sometimes you just gotta get real," he said. "We’ve gotta have -- maybe not in front of an audience -- some questions and answers."