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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Angry Medicaid recipients are demanding that lawmakers restore $3.1 million cut from the program's budget.
In wheelchairs and on foot, with many sporting cracked and yellow teeth, two dozen demonstrators at the Capitol on Wednesday held up signs and waved cardboard replicas of molars as they sang, "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."
Organized by the Anti-Hunger Action Committee and the Disabled Rights Action Committee, the protesters signaled they aren't going to give up their quest to have dental and vision benefits restored to the program.
"Teeth are slowly rotting out of these people who can't afford to pay for services," said Jerry Costley, executive director of the Disabled Rights Action Committee.
Costley complained that the Legislature, while stressing there was no money for the Medicaid services, still managed in 2002 to fund other projects the demonstrators consider questionable, such as $1.8 million allocated to relocate a rendering plant in Utah County and $2 million to extend the runway at Dugway Proving Ground.
"Why would the Department of Defense need it more than people with medical needs?" Costley asked.
Advocates of restoring the cuts plan to work with lawmakers in the next session to find the money, such as eliminating certain sales tax exemptions to provide additional revenue.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)