Governor Herbert, it appears, has reached a deal with the Federal Government on healthcare exchanges. Utah will continue to operate Avenue H for small businesses, while the Feds will run an exchange for individual citizens.
The deal isn’t precisely what Governor Herbert had originally hoped for. During the 2013 general session, the Utah Legislature refused to give him permission to update Avenue H to be fully compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) standards – which would have allowed it to also cover individuals. Without that approval from legislature, this deal could be the best the Governor could get. There are 400,000 Utahns who do not have health insurance currently.
The biggest outstanding component of the Affordable Care Act left is the expansion of Medicaid. Under the ACA, the US Government has agreed to pay the entire cost for the expansion for the first three years – giving elegibility to roughly 200,000 low income Utahns. After the first three years, the Federal Government’s share of the cost tapers off slightly, but the maximum dollar amount Utah would ever be on the hook for is 10 percent of the total cost.
Republican Representative Jacob Anderegg attempted to pass legislation banning the expansion during the 2013 session, arguing that the 200,000 Utahns who would qualify for Medicaid could be covered by so-called “charity care” – doctors donating services. The legislation passed the House but amended into obscurity in the Senate.
Utah is still waiting on the Governor’s decision whether or not he will accept the help from the Feds for the low income Utahns who need the coverage.
copy of Governor Herbert’s letter to HHS, via the sltrib: