The future of a limited Medicaid expansion in Utah is in question after the departure of U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.
Paul Edwards, Gov. Gary Herbert’s chief of staff, says not getting more flexibility with Medicaid could affect the state’s ongoing efforts to treat chronic homelessness in downtown Salt Lake.
“I think it’s fair to say if we do not hear back on that waiver soon, it will set back some of our hopes about Operation Rio Grande and what kind of treatment beds will be available,” he said.
Edwards spoke during a newsmaker breakfast on Wednesday hosted by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah.
Edwards and members of the Utah legislature met with Price a day before he resigned in what Edwards called a “full court press” to persuade the administration to free up some additional funding. He says he hopes to hear back from Washington by November.
Utah is one of 19 states that has not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Edwards also said that the governor would not be taking a position on a citizen-proposed Medicaid expansion initiative. Organizers are currently collecting signatures to put the issue before Utah voters next year.