Public hearings set for Utah’s Medicaid expansion proposal

The Utah Department of Health is hosting a pair of public hearings on the state’s plan to extend Medicaid coverage to as many as 90,000 low-income adults, many of whom have gone without health care for years.

The new law to partially fill Utah’s so-called Medicaid “gap” was passed by the Utah Legislature earlier this year. If ultimately approved by the federal regulators, the plan would provide coverage to adults who make up to 100 percent of the federal poverty line, or $12,140 per year.

The Health Department says it wants to get feedback from the public about details of the expansion plan.

The first meeting will run 4 to 6 p.m. Friday at the department’s offices, 288 North, 1460 West, Room 125, in Salt Lake City. The second hearing is slated for Thursday, from 2 to 4 p.m.

The department also hopes for input on three other possible changes to Utah’s Medicaid program, including tweaks to dental benefits, family planning services and providing certain services to at-risk children covered by Medicaid.

Details are at medicaid.utah.gov/waiver-application.

There are several controversial features of the new expansion law, which Utahns may want to weigh in on, and the federal government will be review those in the coming months.

They include a work requirement for those who want to obtain Medicaid coverage, and a spending cap that could limit how many people can enroll.

In addition, Utah hopes to only provide Medicaid coverage to those earning up to 100 percent of the poverty line, while other states that have expanded coverage have gone to 138 percent — the level mandated by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.