This is an archived article that was published on in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah County Republican Party voted overwhelmingly Saturday to oppose any effort to expand Medicaid, including Gov. Gary Herbert's proposed Healthy Utah plan, adding its skepticism to that of a wide swath of GOP lawmakers.

Rep. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, sponsored the resolution, which was adopted overwhelmingly by the party's central committee, because he said other groups have been unwilling to stand up and oppose the groups calling for expansion.

"You've got all these associations and organizations, most of which will benefit from Medicaid expansion, jumping on board saying 'Healthy Utah, Healthy Utah, Healthy Utah," Anderegg said. "I was wanting there to be another voice in the debate."

When Herbert officially unveiled his Healthy Utah plan last month, he did it with the backing of an array of business groups, health care organizations and advocates.

The debate over whether to expand Medicaid and how to do it will be one of the key issues shaping the upcoming 2015 legislative session, which convenes Monday.

Leaders in the House and Senate have said their respective Republican caucuses also have serious concerns about the long-term costs of the governor's Healthy Utah plan — which would use federal dollars to help buy private insurance for an estimated 95,000 Utahns.

Initially the federal government would cover all of the costs, but over time the state would be responsible for 10 percent of the expense.

Anderegg estimated that, if it was put to a vote in the House today, the dozen Democrats and maybe another dozen Republicans would support it, about a third of the 75 members in the body.

"I just don't see how it's feasible," Anderegg said.

In 2013, Anderegg sponsored legislation that would have required Utah to reject any Medicaid expansion. After Herbert argued the bill would pre-emptively tie his hands, Anderegg changed the bill requiring a series of studies on the costs and alternatives to Medicaid expansion and the approval of the Legislature before expansion can take place.

Last month, the Health Reform Task Force, headed by the incoming House Majority Leader, Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, also recommended rejecting the governor's Healthy Utah plan and instead favored a much narrower program to cover a much narrower population of those who are mentally ill, addicted, disabled or too sick to work and not currently covered.

The task force's option would cover between 10,000 and 16,000 people.

"From where we stand, [Healthy Utah] is still the best path forward to get the taxpayer the best bang for the buck," said the governor's spokesman, Marty Carpenter.

He said the governor is continuing to meet with legislators individually and in groups, including legislative leadership, to make the case for his proposal.

"We recognize this is going to be a difficult decision," Carpenter said. "We're not choosing between the perfect and imperfect. We're trying to make the best of a tough situation. We feel like we're making some progress and feel like we're continuing to have productive discussions." Twitter: @RobertGehrke