Utah Gubernatorial Contestants
Utah Republican Governor Gary Herbert and Democratic challenger Mike Weinholtz agreed on Monday that health care coverage could be better in the state. They disagreed on plenty, including how to expand Medicare coverage and how much Utah policy makers should trust the Federal government to be a good partner. But both candidates said the Utah Legislature has under-performed in expanding Medicare coverage in Utah. They addressed the issue during a televised debate at Utah State University on Monday, Sept. 26. "I'm not satisfied," Governor Herbert said (he was designated as the first to respond to the question). His proposed Healthy Utah plan would have allowed people to "come in and get some health care, but also to get some training and a job," he said. The plan failed to get through the Utah Legislature in 2015. "There are opportunities for us to get out there and work with the legislature," he said. "We've got to convince them that that's the fiscally responsible thing to do." Challenger Weinholtz argued that with the Affordable Care Act, Utahns are already paying taxes that would support extending coverage to many more Utahns--but the legislature has delayed doing so. In the end, he said, they expanded Medicare to an additional 9,000 people, but turned more than 100,000 people away. "It's extremely disappointing," he said. "That is a moral outrage." While the candidates agreed the Utah Legislature could do more for Utah's uninsured, they disagreed on whether Utah should do more to implement the Affordable Care Act. If the issue is using federal money for roads or education, lawmakers don't ask whether the Federal Government would be a good partner, Weinholtz said. Herbert said that under the ACA (or Obamacare), some health care companies have withdrawn from the ACA insurance exchanges, and some companies failed. He argued Utahns did support Healthy Utah--but the Utah Legislature did not listen to them.