Utah awaits governor's decision on Medicaid expansion
How many of the nearly 10 percent of the population the state can afford to help, either with or without federal funding, is what lies in the balance.
"This is Utah's most vulnerable population," Curtis said. "They just need help. They're working and they need that helping hand to get them a little further."
The Utah Hospital Association, a health care industry advocate and policy group, has come out in support of a limited expansion of Medicaid. The group has pushed for a plan that would provide coverage for people who live below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, many of whom already qualify for Medicaid.
Utahns earning above 138 percent of the poverty level can qualify for federal subsidies and obtain insurance through the federal health insurance marketplace
"It's just very difficult to get them coverage otherwise," the association's president and former lieutenant governor of Utah, Greg Bell, said following a November announcement of the organization's position on expansion. "They just can't afford it."
He said the state has a duty to "take care of it's own," which includes the disadvantaged population.
Despite the countless hours of examination conducted by state agencies, the task force and the governor's Medicaid work group, as well as national organizations that have detailed anticipated costs and savings for expansion and no expansion in Utah, the state has yet to reach an accord.
"We've got to get people to understand this ought to be based on common sense and adhere to concern for the taxpayer as opposed to ideology — because we don't like Obamacare, therefore we won't take a federal dollar," Herbert said during a February meeting with the Deseret News Editorial Board.
Herbert has yet to detail his plan and has said resolution on the matter may extend beyond its current 45-day assembly, into a special session of the Legislature.
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