Trump officials approve Utah's full Medicaid expansion, work requirements

Trump officials approve Utah's full Medicaid expansion, work requirements
© Aaron Schwartz

Utah will fully expand Medicaid next year, after Trump administration health officials approved the state’s plan to cover thousands of additional residents and impose controversial work requirements.

State officials said Monday that the approval means up to 120,000 new people will be eligible for Medicaid coverage beginning Jan. 1.

The expansion will extend Medicaid eligibility to Utah adults whose annual income is up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — $16,753 for an individual or $34,638 for a family of four.

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Under ObamaCare, the federal government pays for more than 90 percent of the cost of states that wish to expand Medicaid. 

Full Medicaid expansion was part of the state’s “fallback” plan. Utah hoped to receive the same level of federal funding while covering only a fraction of the people, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rejected the state’s request.

The partial expansion would have covered about 48,000 fewer people than full expansion, and cost almost $50 million more. The fallback plan called for full expansion, but with controversial work requirements.

Utah joins South Carolina as the second state in recent weeks to gain such an approval.

CMS approved the full expansion in Utah, along with the state’s request to impose work requirements.

According to Utah officials, people who are subject to the work requirement will need to complete an online job assessment, online training programs and report 48 job searches within the first three months of eligibility. Failure to complete the process will result in termination of Medicaid coverage.

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CMS has not approved other aspects of the waiver, like charging premiums and surcharges for people whose income exceeds more than 100 percent of the federal poverty level.

“CMS’s decision is evidence states can craft viable, unique solutions to deliver critical health care services to their residents,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) said in a statement.

The Trump administration has made it a priority to approve work requirements in the 11 states that have submitted requests, but has run into opposition in the federal court system. Other state work requirements have been blocked by federal judges or paused by states as a result of the lawsuits.