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Utah State Capitol lawn resembles cemetery during protest over inaction on Medicaid

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Posted at 6:15 PM, Oct 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-21 20:15:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The lawn at the Utah State Capitol looked more akin to Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, with white crosses spread over its acres, each one representing a person dead without insurance—at least according to one estimate.

“Harvard and City University of New York researchers have estimated that Utah's preventable death rate from the failure to expand Medicaid coverage has been 361 people in the last two-plus years,” said David Irving of Alliance for a Better Utah, which organized the protest.

ABU says the state legislature is hypocritical, granting themselves lavish lifetime benefits while denying coverage to residents that is mostly paid for by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act.

Republican representatives led by Speaker Greg Hughes say the Affordable Care Act is fatally flawed, and they are trying to find a solution that doesn’t threaten the state’s finances.

“We're talking about a coverage gap that is from nothing we've done; we didn't create it,” Hughes said as he talked with his Republican caucus about health care.

House Republican recently met in a closed caucus and voted against considering a Medicaid Expansion plan called Utah Access Plus.