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Teen battling cancer awaits Utah Medicaid expansion
Health reform » Cancer patient can’t get treatment as state edges to rejecting a full benefit expansion.

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And as proof, he pointed to the state of Iowa, where Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, struck a deal with federal health officials in December. The state would expand Medicaid, but those who sign up have to use federal dollars to pay for a private managed care policy through healthcare.gov. And those who sign up through this hybrid Medicaid plan must participate in preventative health checks or pay a fine.

Simas said the administration is ready to be flexible, but it pushed back strongly against states where governors have rejected the expansion entirely.

At a glance

Utah-style Medicaid expansion

A legislative task force has endorse three alternatives to a full Medicaid expansion:

» Do nothing and keep Medicaid eligibility rules as they are now.

» Use public dollars to buy private insurance for residents with incomes under the federal poverty level. Those earning at least the poverty level or up to 138 percent of that amount would shop with federal subsidies on the federal health exchange, www.HealthCare.gov.

» Use public dollars to buy private insurance for the full expansion population, those earning up to 138 percent of poverty.

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"People want it. Your residents want options and choices. They want to be covered," Simas said. "It is just the right thing to do."

For Buckner and her son, Utah’s decision can’t come soon enough.

"We are running out of options," said she said. "It’s unfathomable to me that the state would deny a person with cancer access to health care ... He just wants to be healthy and productive."


Twitter: KStewart4Trib

Tribune reporter Matt Canham contributed to this story.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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