Utah Governor hints at expanding Medicaid

Gary Richard Herbert, 17th Governor of the US state of Utah, on Thursday said that the administration will expand Medicaid to cover more of the state’s uninsured.

The Republican Governor, during his monthly news conference, however, did not mention that which of two strategies endorsed by a legislative Health Reform Task Force he prefers in this regard or whether he has some another approach towards the same.

The decision on the expansion of strategies will come during the legislative session, slates to begin next week, he said.

Democrats and low-income advocates were encouraged by the Governor’s statements.

 

This is his first public commitment to embrace an optional, but key, component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Every month that Utah waits to start a program. We lose over four million dollars in federal funding, thousands of families struggle accessing and paying for care, and continue to face the physical, mental and financial harm that occurs when families are uninsured,” Lincoln Nehring, a health policy analyst at Voices for Utah Children, opined.

Welcoming Herbert’s decision, state Democratic party chairman Jim Dabakis said, “We trust that this is not a conditional acceptance and that the Utah Legislature will see the wisdom in joining so many other states in providing a hand up to desperate for affordable health care.”

The full Medicaid expansion anticipated by the Affordable Care Act will cover 111,000 people who earn up to 138 per cent of the federal poverty level, or USD 32,000 for a family of four members.