Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
No Medicaid expansion deal reached in Utah
Health care » GOP leaders fail to reach consensus.
First Published Mar 13 2014 08:37 pm • Last Updated Mar 14 2014 07:26 pm

Doctors, hospitals and advocates for the poor had high hopes Utah would become the 28th state to expand Medicaid this legislative session — a move that would cover more than a quarter of the state’s 400,000 uninsured.

A legislative task force spent the better part of a year studying the issue. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert commissioned his own studies and had vowed to make a decision in January.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

But his plan, a "block grant" option announced late in the session, failed to win over GOP leaders in the House and Senate who want more time to weigh their options.

"Irreversible decisions ought to be made with as much deliberation and as much information as you possibly can," House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, told The Salt Lake Tribune last week.

Herbert wants to use $258 million in federal expansion dollars to buy private coverage for the full expansion group — 111,000 Utahns with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, such as a single person earning less than $15,500.

He has sent advisers to Washington, D.C., to negotiate with the Obama administration, and though he lacks the backing of the Legislature, lawmakers haven’t tied his hands.

There are common elements in Herbert’s proposal and Senate and House plans. All of them would: use public (federal) dollars to buy private coverage; require enrollees to shoulder some of their health care costs; and allow the state to back out of the deal should promised federal funding dry up.

But House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, who is rumored to be running against Herbert in the next election cycle, has refused to approve of any expansion plan that draws on federal funds.

Even if Herbert wins final approval from the feds — a process that could take three months or more — he’ll have no way to fund his plan without lawmakers voting to accept federal funds.

For Utahns in need of affordable health coverage that means more uncertainty and waiting.

story continues below
story continues below

kstewart@sltrib.com Twitter: KStewart4Trib

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.