by Paul Gibbs
Considering the hyper-partisan state of modern political discourse, you'd be making a reasonable assumption if you thought that support for Healthy Utah was divided firmly along part lines, with liberals supporting the acceptance of federal funding for health care expansion, and conservatives opposing it. But you'd be wrong.
Consider that the proposal for Healthy Utah comes from Utah's popular Republican Governor Gary Herbert. Whatever one thinks of Herbert, one of the last things anyone would call him is "liberal". Healthy Utah also has the support of Republican Senator Brian Shiozawa, who sponsored it in the 2014 general legislative session. And Senator Peter Knudson, a Republican member of the Utah Health Reform Task Force, informed me personally in an email that he would support Health Utah. Ray Ward, a Bountiful Physician who tells the moving story of the late Emily Young in Entitled To Life, seems poised to be elected as a Republican legislator this November.
And support among the citizens of Utah is hardly divided along party lines. 84% of Utahns who called themselves "Very Conservative" stated that they supported Healthy Utah over not expanding coverage in a recent Dan Jones & Associates Poll.
Not only that, but recognition of the need t care for those in the gap crosses religious lines as well. LDS Bishop David Heslington, who estimates that 1 in 4 members f his Ward fall into the coverage gap, calls caring for the poor "a moral obligation". Catholic Bishop Re. John C. Wester says that "Utah cannot proclaim itself a pro-life state so long as it refuses to provide access to basic health care coverage to a significant portion of its citizens". And Episcopal Bishop Scott Hayashi has said that if legislators block expansion because of their values, "We need to get leaders with better values."
Whether it's conservatives who oppose Healthy Utah because it involves a provision of the Affordable Care Act, or liberals who refuse to get behind the compromise of Healthy Utah because it isn't full Medicaid expansion, the time for partisanship is long over. We need to pass the most widely accepted option and bring health care to those who need it.