Gov. Gary Herbert announced today a plan to fill the gap in Utah’s health care system without expanding Medicaid.
“Healthy Utah” is the name of Herbert’s new plan to cover those living in poverty in the state.
Speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon, Herbert said he would seek a grant from the federal government and use the money to provide health insurance assistance to the poorest Utahns.
"I am prepared to pursue a block grant from the federal government to bring Utah taxpayers' dollars back to the state to be used in a unique Utah way to fulfill our responsibility to care for those who live in poverty amongst us in our communities," he said.
Herbert said both houses of the state Legislature support the flexibility of a block grant.
If given the grant, Herbert said the state would set up a three-year pilot program for Healthy Utah. He said the plan would require the Utah Department of Health to report to the governor’s office and the Legislature as to how the plan is rolling out.
"At the end of three years, this will allow us to evaluate how best to proceed as we go forward," he said. "We'll find out what we've learned about the health care needs of families and individuals in the state of Utah. We'll also understand the ability and the willingness of the federal government to live up to its commitments, and we'll also understand the impacts it has on our own state budget."
Healthy Utah would help Utahns who make less than $15,500 a year pay for a private market insurance plan. The amount of assistance given out would be based on four factors: ability to work, household income, access to employer or family health insurance and individual health care needs.