Utah to expand Medicaid under O-Care

Utah will become the latest GOP-run state to accept ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion, according to the governor.

Gary Herbert (R) said Thursday that "doing nothing is not an option" when it comes to the state's uninsured population.

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He also took a shot at the Affordable Care Act's structure for insurance benefits, arguing that the "flawed" reform leaves low-income people out in the cold.

"We have about 60,000 people in the state of Utah that live below the poverty line, which, because of, just, flaws in the Affordable Care Act, will not have the coverage that is necessary for them to access good healthcare," Herbert said.

Healthcare reform provides federal funds for states to expand their Medicaid eligibility up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

The policy was originally mandatory under the law, but became optional as a result of the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold ObamaCare in 2012.

Herbert alluded to the fact that people otherwise eligible for the Medicaid expansion cannot access federal discounts for private plans on the new insurance marketplaces. This is the case even in states that refuse to carry out the expansion.

Utah is not likely to embrace the policy precisely as written in the Affordable Care Act.

Herbert may petition the federal government for permission to expand Medicaid up to 100 percent of the poverty level, or to use program dollars to subsidize private insurance.

Arkansas and Iowa, among other states, have pursued the latter option.

At least 25 states and the District of Columbia were expanding their Medicaid programs as of earlier this month, according to the Advisory Board Company.