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Herbert to Decide on Medicaid Expansion in 2014

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Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he’ll likely make a decision on whether to expand Medicaid in the state by early next year. Utah is among a handful of states facing the decision as the Affordable Health Act rolls out this fall.  But the Governor told reporters at his monthly KUED news conference, he’s not in a hurry. 

A community group made up of state lawmakers, industry experts and health care advocates are in the midst of drafting several options like fully or partially expanding Medicaid eligibility, state self-reliance and charity care.  They’ll present those recommendations at the governor’s Health Innovation Summit next month. Governor Herbert says he’ll consider those recommendations, before approaching state lawmakers in next year’s legislative session to make a decision.

“But I assure you, I am not going to be rushed on this," Herbert says. "We have decisions being made in this country today on healthcare, particularly on affordable care act, on Medicaid and Medicaid expansion being made based on political rational, as opposed to what is common sense or what’s in the best interest of the people and the taxpayer.”

Herbert says at the end of the day Utah needs access to high quality, affordable healthcare, which he says the state already has.

“We only have about 14 percent of our population in Utah that don’t have access to in fact some kind of insurance," Herbert says. "Half of those could afford to get it if they would choose to get it. So now we’re talking about 7 percent of our population and yet we’re having a significant overhaul of our healthcare system in a state that’s really doing pretty well.”

There is no deadline for Utah to expand Medicaid; however states that have decided to expand will begin receiving additional federal money for the program on January 1st. If Utah does not expand Medicaid by that time, the state could miss out on some of those funds. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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