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Utah is one of the remaining states still "undecided" about Medicaid Expansion.  Utahns For Medicaid Expansion,  chaired by a doctor in private practice (Ray Ward) has taken on the task of organizing us to support Medicaid Expansion despite our do-as-little-as-possible governor and totally useless legislature.  

Professional photo:
Chris Detrick for the Salt Lake Tribune.

I first discovered this event in my church bulletin.  I shared it in some FB groups and was asked for an event page, which I found.  I really wanted to go and support it, but I am kind of freaked out in crowds.  I also have a habit of not leaving my home a lot unless it has something to do with my kids.  I was blessed to sleep well a couple nights in a row and woke up headache-free on Wednesday morning, so I went.  I remembered what Yoda said, "There is no try, there is only do or do not."  

Because I was nervous about crowding (it was the last interim day before the lege opens in january so there were all kinds of hearings) I left early. Like, an hour early for a 10-minute drive ;-)  Reporters and legislators were tweeting about the crowds all morning!  

And someone graciously left for lunch and gave me their east-capitol drive parking space! Then I was so early someone (Dr. Ray Ward)  found me and made me volunteer. I helped people fill out postcards. I stayed at the tables and they protected me from the crowds. I heard hardly any of the speakers.  I saw my pastor and lots of friends from church.  I met ballerina x, my state rep Brian King, a couple other twitter friends, and more people from U4ME and USARA.  I even took a couple photos, and took photos of other people with their cameras for them.  People wanted to pose with the signs.  

Besides my personal experience above, I wanted to share a couple quotes from local news and give you those links if you want to explore this more.  

There was speaker after speaker from a range of organizations.  Nonprofits like the pediatrician's association, many other medical professionals, recovery community, women's groups, including the LWV (League of Women Voters), various advocates for the poor, and many faith leaders in official clothing.  

Utahns rally to push Medicaid coverage for more people

An expansion, envisioned by the Affordable Care Act but deemed voluntary for states by the U.S. Supreme Court, would cover an estimated 123,000 uninsured Utahns. Analyses show it would bring billions in federal funding to the state during the next 10 years, create jobs and reduce the charity-care burden on hospitals.

Herbert has said he will not make a decision until 2014, allowing him to confer with lawmakers — while Republican lawmakers remain opposed, concerned about future costs. There’s no deadline for deciding, though states that drag their feet risk forgoing federal funding and delaying coverage.

 Trib also has a photo gallery.

Hundreds rally in support of expanding Medicaid in Utah

Many at the rally said the government programs that have helped them until now will no longer be available on January 1 because the ACA assumed an expanded Medicaid program would be universally available.

Jennifer Ericksen is on a program called the Primary Care Network that pays for four prescriptions a month.  “But PCN expires in January,” Ericksen said. “I require life-sustaining medications multiple times a day.”

Utahns Rally for More Medicaid Coverage
The letter was signed by more than 100 faith leaders in the state from different religious groups, though notably absent was anyone representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Steve Klemz, Pastor for Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, says it is a moral issue to provide health coverage for more than 123,000 uninsured Utahns.

Republican Senator Brian Shiozawa stood with many Democratic state representatives who attended the rally. Shiozawa - who is also an emergency room doctor - insisted that the expansion of Medicaid should not be a partisan issue.

“This is an issue that should cross party lines, and it’s something that we need to work together on and we shouldn’t be divided on. There are patients every day that I treat or cannot treat because they don’t have insurance, they won’t come in because they don’t have that access,” Shiozawa says.

Diarist's nonprofessional photo.  

In closing, it is my opinion that the governor wants to accept this, because of the financial sense, and moral issues of offering coverage.  Also, the legislature does not want the governor to sign it and will probably try to pass a bill saying he may not.  I don't know what will shake out from that.  Also, if the LDS church would issue a statement of support I think it would all go more smoothly.  

Other lessons, although there may be more later:  It's good to leave my regular routine once in a while.  It's good to make a difference where I can.  And even if the governor bails, everyone supporting U4ME is doing the right thing now.  


Please do not use this diary for LDS bashing.  There are many fine LDS Dems and Republicans, and non-political people, supporting this.  And the LDS church does not issue statements on many items.  

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