Three Plans For Utah Medicaid Expansion Emerge
As state legislators try to decide what to do about the 60,000 Utahns who fall into the Medicaid gap, there remain plenty of unanswered questions regarding health care reform.
There are currently three proposed health care plans in Utah. The House, Senate and Governor all are presenting separate plans.
The House’s Plan:
The House plan is being presented by Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart as House Bill 401. The reform by only using state dollars to cover the Medicaid gap.
The Senate’s Plan:
Senate Bill 251, which is sponsored by Sen. Brian Shiozowa, is a partial expansion and private-option plan. This means it would subsidize health care coverage through employer-sponsored insurance, private insurance and Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations.
The proposed bill would cover anybody who is under the poverty level which means any individual making less than $11,500 per year. By 2020, it is estimated to cover 54,000 Utahns.
Under this plan, Utah would have to ask the federal government to help cover 90 percent of the cost, while the state would cover the rest. This is opposed to the current system in which the national government covers 70 percent of Medicaid.
However, the Utah Health Policy Project, which supports the governor’s bill, is fearful that the federal government would pull it's funding down the road.
Gov. Gary Herbert is proposing a plan called “Healthy Utah.” Through that plan, those who qualify can choose their own private insurance plan and the state will subsidize insurance premiums.
Anyone who makes less than $15,500 per year could qualify. By 2020, the plan would cover 111,000 Utahns.
Herbert’s plan would be fully funded by the federal government though a $258 million block grant. The state wouldn’t spend any money for this plan.
We’ve introduced our proposal which we think is very common-sensible, designed to recognize that we send $680 million dollars back to Washington D.C. from the Utah taxpayer to pay for health care,” Herbert said at a recent press conference.
The governor seemed hopeful that he and the state legislature could find a compromise within the last days of the legislative session.