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Richard Piatt ReportingUtah's legislature will begin its annual regular session next Monday. Among the emotional pressure points on tap this year is funding for health care--Medicaid in particular.
This year Utah lawmakers will be handling a record surplus: 1.6 billion dollars. That has a lot of people under the impression that a lot of problems can be solved. Those people are Medicaid recipients.
Medicaid offers health care benefits to those who can't afford it. But lawmakers are looking for ways to control the skyrocketing cost increases every year. An idea that a subcommittee approved, that scares recipients, is a five percent cap on increase.
Dennis Grill, Medicaid Recipient: "What you want to cut is people like me who really need these programs that will help us so we can have somewhat of a normal, beneficial life."
Sen. Sheldon Killpack, Asst. Majority Whip: "You have the general fund growing at five per cent on an annual basis, and growth is about 11 percent on an annual basis. You just can't keep in sync with that or else you'll go bankrupt."
This group of advocates will be watching closely to guard existing benefits. They also want to push for prescription drug reform, which they say can save millions of dollars by itself.
This is just one issue lawmakers will be wrestling with during the session.
There is going to be a lot of competition for pieces of that surplus. And in the end, those in education, transportation, health care will have probably not get every single thing they're hoping for.