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Herbert Closing in on Healthcare Deal

Photo of Gov. Gary Herbert
File photo
Governor Gary Herbert presents his Healthy Utah Plan during the 2014 legislative session.

Governor Gary Herbert says he is very close to an agreement with the federal government on his proposal to provide health insurance for those under the poverty line.

Coming out of his meeting with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell in Washington, Governor Herbert says he’s gotten about 95 percent of what he’s asked for, and he’s optimistic that a final agreement should be reached shortly.

“They’re giving us maximum flexibility – certainly more flexibility than has ever been awarded before,” Herbert says. “They told us today that what we’re offering the state of Utah in these negotiations has not been done or offered at any other state in the union.”

A sticking point in the negotiations has been whether the feds would allow Utah to include a work requirement for those receiving health insurance. Herbert says they’ve found an approach that both can agree to.

“We’ve couched it now as a benefit in addition to healthcare,” Herbert says. “If you’re able-bodied and unemployed, you ought to in addition to get some help in finding work. And we’re going to add that as a benefit. That seems to be a more appealing way to address this issue. It gives us the same outcome which is that people who are unemployed, we’re going to help them get employed.”

Herbert says both sides will work out the details over the next two to three weeks. He expects to have a final plan he can present to the state legislature at that time.

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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