Utah compromises with small Medicaid expansion
- With state legislators unable to agree for years on the issue of Medicaid expansion, Utah's Senate approved a compromise bill this week that would expand coverage to only the very poorest in the state.
- The bill, HB 437, will provide new coverage to about 16,000 people, compared to the estimated 125,000 who would have been covered under previous proposals for wider expansion.
- The bill passed in a vote of 19-8 and is expected to receive the signature of Gov. Gary Herbert (R).
Utah's bill stands out among state Medicaid expansion efforts in that it targets only those in extreme poverty, such as the chronically homeless, individuals with mental health issues, and those getting back on their feet after serving in prison.
After the bill is signed, it will still need federal waivers in order to take effect. The plan will cost an estimated $30 million in state funding and $70 million in federal funding.
While some praised the bill, others lamented that it does nothing to serve the working poor and argued that more should be still be done.
"Seriously, hopefully in the future this will be a step, as we start to understand where the true costs are, the involvement, all of it, that we can expand further and control that expansion and the cost of that expansion in a reasonable way," state Sen. Allen Christensen (R) was quoted by Deseret News.
- The Salt Lake Tribune Long fight over: Small-scale Medicaid expansion wins final approval