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Utah’s Health System Reform Task Force Ends with Unanswered Questions

The state’s Health System Reform Task Force had its final meeting Monday before the legislative session, but questions remain about health reform  - in particular, who will run Utah’s health insurance exchange.

Governor Gary Herbert informed the US Department of Health and Humans Services last week that Utah wants to keep its own health insurance marketplace known as Avenue H.  The problem is that Avenue H serves only businesses, and doesn’t have any insurance options for individuals, a requirement for an exchange to be compliant with the Affordable Care Act.  Utah’s Health Reform Implementation Coordinator Norm Thurston says that will come.

“We would like HHS to approve Utah’s version of an exchange including what we’ve developed to this point and what we have under development as well,” Thurston told KUER.   

Judi Hilman, Executive Director of Utah Health Policy Project, said the decision is confusing, and the state needs clarity now about how it’s going to comply with the Affordable Care Act. 

“We’re at the point where we need a black and white decision about whether we want to have a federal facilitated exchange, or run the exchange or do a partnership exchange.  Utah is the only state which is basically not answering that question.”

HHS has already conditionally approved nine state-based exchange plans.  It has ten applications yet to review – including Utah’s.

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