2013 decisions could be key to your family's health care

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 30 2013 6:55 p.m. MST

The Utah Department of Health has commissioned a cost analysis to determine what costs and, if any savings, may apply to a potentially expanded Medicaid system. 

Utah is one of 12 states still undecided on Medicaid expansion, which stands to bring additional federal match dollars — albeit maybe not enough to cover potential enrollment growth and the costs for changes in benefits — to the table.

Freshman lawmaker Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, works as a family doctor called Medicaid "obstructionist" and limiting in what can be ordered for certain patient groups as reasons it perhaps should not be expanded.

"There are a lot of road blocks," he said. "It's really difficult to deliver care under Medicaid."

The federal government has promised reimbursements to states that opt for Medicaid expansion, leaving the state to foot the bill for administrative costs in the first three years, beginning this year. But the payments wane to 90 percent of costs over the next decade and nothing is determined beyond that time frame.

Hilman said, "the longer the state waits, the more money is left on the table."

However, Dunnigan said, "the state can do it better." He is also hoping for the federal government to grant Utah flexibility.

"This is not easy," he said. "There is so much in the Affordable Care Act, this is one area where ignorance is bliss." Dunnigan said.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said Medicaid expansion is an important issue for Utah lawmakers, but he believes they won't discuss it until after the federal government resolves the federal budget, ultimately designating what each state will receive for the upcoming fiscal year.

"We will not pass a budget spending money we don't know we have," he said.

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com,

Twitter: wendyleonards

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