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Lawmakers approve ambitious Medicaid reform plan

Published March 9, 2011 3:47 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A bill to reform Utah's Medicaid program — an ambitious plan that purports to save $770 million over seven years — cleared a final hurdle Wednesday and is en route to Gov. Gary Herbert, who is expected to sign it.

SB180 would steer Medicaid recipients into a managed care system, rather than simply paying doctors or hospitals for services provided. In addition, the bill would set a target of limiting Medicaid growth to 8 percent annually. If the costs of Medicaid increase more slowly, the difference would go into a Medicaid Rainy Day Fund, which could be tapped in those years when growth exceeds 8 percent.

The culmination of months of consensus-building with hospitals, medical associations and consumer groups, the bill encountered no opposition, passing the Senate by a wide margin and the House in a 77-0 vote on Wednesday.

It contains few details, leaving most of the legwork to state health officials who would be tasked with drafting a reform plan and submitting it for approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The goal is to preserve the budget-busting low-income health insurance program, not to gut it, said the bill's sponsor Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland.

Kirsten Stewart

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