Utah seeks partial expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare

Utah seeks partial expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare
© Cameron Lancaster

Utah’s Republican governor, Gary Herbert, on Tuesday signed a bill seeking to partially expand Medicaid under ObamaCare.

The conservative state had previously declined to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and the new proposal must first be approved by the Trump administration, something that is far from certain.

The bill signing comes after years of debate in Utah. 

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“It’s had its twists and turns, its bumps and bruises, to get us to this point here today," Herbert said in signing the bill, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. 

Utah’s proposal does not go as far as a regular expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare. The standard expansion extends coverage to people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. Utah’s proposal, known as a “partial expansion,” would only extend coverage up to 100 percent of the poverty line, about $25,000 for a family of four.

Still, the state estimates the proposal would cover 60,000 people if approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

CMS, though, has never approved a partial expansion when other states have tried. It recently punted on a similar proposal from Arkansas, in what was seen as a negative sign about the idea's chances of success.

Some Republicans fear that allowing partial expansion of Medicaid would simply encourage states that have not expanded the program at all to take up partial expansion, feeding growth in the program.