Chaffetz on the Rise | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Chaffetz on the Rise 

Also: Medicaid Expansion Stalled, A Street to Call Home?

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Chaffetz on the Rise
Hand it to Salt Lake Tribune reporter Thomas Burr for his coverage of Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz and his dark-horse bid to become House Speaker. Burr helped write the less-than-memorable book about the less-than-memorable Mia Love, even before she won office. Reporters were giddy at the prospect of a black female Republican on the national stage. But Chaffetz is a different case. Egotistical as he may be, the congressman has boundless energy to implement his strategy for achieving power. He's seen both sides of the political spectrum and chose the one that gave him the best boost. He plays the poor kid well, even while dealing with the power brokers. He throws off embarrassment and loss, and just keeps on talking—even when he's wrong. So, don't discount this latest maneuver as a fool's quest.

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Medicaid Expansion Stalled
While legislators have no problem throwing money at development issues, they are loath to put one red cent toward health care for the uninsured. They shake their heads and grumble about the cost to Utahns, as they roll out the ill-titled Utah Access Plus proposal. Let's face it: Nothing is going to appease the Utah GOP—not even assessing doctors and hospitals for the privilege of treating Medicaid patients. House Majority Leader Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, speaking to KUER 90.1 FM, said he wants to hear from constituents and providers. The question? "Do you want to be taxed more?" Meanwhile, Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, says Republican lawmakers dreamed up the plan only "to meet the ideological needs of the extremists in the Republican party." So far, the Republicans have passed on every iteration of Medicaid expansion, waiting, it seems, for President Obama to leave office. Meanwhile, uninsured Utahns suffer and even die without coverage.

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A Street to Call Home?
Glenn Bailey has a good idea, although it requires Salt Lake City passing a bond measure for $30 million. Bailey, of Crossroads Urban Center, got tired of waiting for the Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission to spit out a solution to the problem near the homeless center. Many believe the ultimate recommendations will be simply to move the shelter. That's not a solution. Crossroads is asking for a bond to start the process, which includes closing Rio Grande Street between 200 South and 300 South to protect the homeless from crime and drug-dealing. There's more to the plan, including the stillborn Medicaid expansion effort, which would include mental health coverage. Increased police presence in the area is also part of the mix.

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