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Utah Lawmakers Undecided on Medicaid Expansion

Since the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, governors in four states have declared they will not expand Medicaid. Utah is currently undecided. State lawmakers met Tuesday to review the Supreme Court’s decision - and Utah’s options.

Republican Representative James Dunnigan of Taylorsville is chair of the state’s Health System Reform Task Force. He says the expansion of Medicaid is a big policy decision for Utah, and lawmakers are still gathering information. 

“We just had the meal from the Supreme Court, and we’re still digesting,” said Dunnigan, “so things that I felt a week and a half ago, they’re changing, and they’ll continue to evolve.”

The Supreme Court decision allows states to opt out of expanding Medicaid without losing current funds. But Dunnigan says the state would need to figure out what it will do with the remaining uninsured population – whether their health insurance would be covered by a government program or the private insurance market. 

“One thing that we need to know is what flexibility the federal government will give us, and we don’t know that yet,” said Dunnigan.  “Will they negotiate with us and perhaps come up with more of a Utah version that will work better for Utahns?  That’s what we need to know.”

The task force hopes to have more information from the US Department of Health and Human Services by the time they meet next week. Dunnigan says he doesn’t know when lawmakers will come to a decision, but he expects it will be before the election in November. 

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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