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House to Consider Two Medicaid Expansion Plans

Mike Renlund via Creative Commons

In a major pivot for Utah House leadership, two Medicaid expansion plans will go before a House Committee as lawmakers approach the final week of the general session.

Just last week House Speaker Greg Hughes told reporters Healthy Utah wouldn’t get a debate in the House because there weren’t enough votes. The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Brian Shiozawa is modeled after Governor Gary Herbert’s partial Medicaid expansion plan, which provides medical coverage for Utahns up to 138 percent of the poverty line.

But Tuesday morning a House Rules Committee assigned the bill to a committee along with House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan’s latest proposal, Utah Cares, which he said will accomplish the goal of providing coverage to those who need it, while using fewer federal dollars.

“It completely fills in the coverage gap,” Dunnigan said. “It’s sustainable. It’s affordable. I think it’s something we can do. I think it will pass the House, which is very important.”

Dunnigan’s House Bill 446 would offer primary care coverage to people up to 100 percent of the poverty line. Governor Herbert said Tuesday he maintains a staunch supporter of Healthy Utah.

“I think it actually gives you better outcomes, better choices for the consumer, more healthcare choices and just on many levels I think it gives us a better healthcare outcome which is the end result of all of this effort.”

For the first two years, the pilot program for Healthy Utah would cost the state $25 million. Utah Cares would cost between $60 and $80 million. 

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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