Utah Medicaid expansion supporters rally at the Capitol

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Supporters of expanding Medicaid to cover more of Utah's uninsured rallied at the state Capitol on Friday, delivering Gov. Gary Herbert a chain of paper links representing the 150,000 Utahns who would be left out without the expansion.

The event followed clarification of a cost estimate produced by the Legislative Fiscal Analyst's office.

Not only would the expansion cost Utah nothing the first three years, it would save the state $5 million in general and education funds in 2014 and $16 million in 2015, it said.

The savings would occur because Medicaid would cover some current state spending on mental health for the uninsured, hospital care for inmates and other programs, according to the legislative fiscal analyst's office.

"The Medicaid expansion is a clear boon to Utah and our economy," says Matt Slonaker, Medicaid policy and collaborations director for the Utah Health Policy Project.

Crossroads Urban Center, the Coalition of Religious Communities and low-income advocates participated in Friday's rally.