Utah officials are keeping a close eye on Arkansas as they consider whether to expand Medicaid in the state. The Utah Department of Health held an informational conference call Thursday with Arkansas’ Medicaid Director Andy Allison. Members of Utah’s Medicaid Expansion community workgroup see promise in Arkansas’ unique model. It gives eligible low-income residents Medicaid expansion dollars to buy private health insurance.
Utah could save millions of dollars and provide health insurance to about 123,000 people if the state expands Medicaid. That was the conclusion of an independent cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the state.
Many Utahns with preexisting medical conditions will see their health insurance shifted from state to federal oversight in July. After federal funding ran short for the “high-risk” insurance pool, state officials have refused to take on any additional costs. And federal health officials have refused to allow Select Health, the insurer that administers the program for Utah, to take responsibility.
Utah has come to an agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services on how it will run its exchange – or health insurance marketplace. HHS has approved Utah’s first-of-its-kind proposal to split state and federal responsibilities. Under the agreement, Utah will continue running the state exchange known as Avenue H for small businesses. The federal government will run a separate exchange for individual consumers.
Utah considers walking away from a high risk insurance pool, the University of Utah considers stricter rules for skateboarders, and Dan Nailen shares why Salt Lake is in for night after night after night of good music.
Utah is telling the federal government it’s not willing to take on more of the risk and the cost of insuring people with pre-existing health conditions. The US Department of Health and Human Services wants to cap federal spending on state-run high-risk pools because they are running out of funding. The Utah Governor’s office has until Friday to decide whether to absorb those costs in the state, or transition enrollees into a federal program – which they say will cost more out of pocket.
A select group of healthcare providers, advocates, and community leaders met at the State Capitol Tuesday to discuss Medicaid, and the state’s pending decision on whether to expand the program to include more uninsured, low-income Utahns. Utah Department of Health Executive Director David Patton brought together about 20 people for the Medicaid workgroup.
Wednesday night, the Utah Senate guaranteed that Governor Gary Herbert will play a key role in deciding if the state will expand its Medicaid program. Lawmakers in both chambers approved a substitute bill that now sets guidelines for how the Governor will make his decision.
Supporters of expanding Utah’s Medicaid program under the President’s health care plan don’t expect to see a decision during the legislative session. But they came to Utah's state capitol Friday to make their point anyway.
There were about a hundred people on the capitol steps for a rally in support of Medicaid expansion, but many more links in the paper chains they brought along. Each of the 150-thousand links represents a Medicaid client in Utah – somebody like Stacey Stanford, who’s been in a wheelchair since a car accident in 2010.