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Medicaid replacement bill passes committee despite protests

Ma Black, left, and Beth Armstrong, center, supporters of a voter-approved measure to fully expand Medicaid gather others at a rally to ask lawmakers not to change the law during the first day of the Utah Legislature, at the Utah State Capitol, Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate Health and Human Services Committee has voted 6-2 along party lines for a bill to replace the voter-approved Proposition 3 Medicaid expansion.

Republicans on the committee supported S.B. 96 while Democrats opposed it.

If passed by the full Senate, the so-called “bridge plan” would expand Medicaid to those earning $12,000 a year. But it also imposes enrollment caps and requires most to look for a job to qualify.

Lawmakers say those who make between 100% and 138% of the poverty line would qualify for other subsidized insurance.

S.B. 96 keeps the small sales tax increase from the voter-approved version.

Supporters say it’s a financially responsible alternative that gives more people medical coverage. But opponents, who had packed the Capitol to protest against the changes, say the legislature is overruling the will of the voters while denying healthcare to our most vulnerable.