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Medicaid expansion is a hot topic on Capitol Hill. And a tough one. Should Utah accept hundreds of millions of federal dollars so that thousands more low-income citizens qualify for Medicaid?

Or should Utah come up with a program using state dollars only, possibly at a cost to other state programs, that doesn’t cover as many people? 

It’s interesting to see that Utah’s two leading daily newspapers, The Tribune tending to be liberal and the Deseret News more conservative, both agree that Medicaid should be expanded. The Tribune favors full expansion (see http://bit.ly/MFTLz2). The Deseret News (see http://bit.ly/1jOgBzr) supports Gov. Gary Herbert’s “reasonable expansion” covering at least the 50,000 or so low-income citizens who are stuck in limbo -- not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid currently, but also not able to qualify for Obamacare subsidies.  

The Deseret News agrees with Herbert that Utah taxpayers are already paying big taxes for the Medicaid program, so the state should get a fair share back. Refusing the funds won’t reduce federal borrowing and will mean many low-income Utahns go without medical services.

I sympathize with those who question the wisdom of expanding a program that is already in serious long-term financial trouble. But we pay a lot of federal taxes and we receive a lot of federal dollars for myriad programs. So the practical solution is to develop the most responsible Utah expansion program possible, and take back at least some of the tax dollars we’re sending to the federal government.