Utah lawmakers discuss details of proposed Medicaid plan

Posted at 10:03 PM, Sep 29, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY -- After months of debate, lawmakers revealed details of a new Medicaid expansion plan to Republican and Democratic caucuses Tuesday.

A coalition of Republican leaders known as the Gang of Six, includes Gov. Gary Herbert, House Majority Leader James Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, and Senate president Wayne L. Niederhauser, R-Sandy. The group has been working on the details for the proposed plan.

"The plan we talked about tonight is definitely not Healthy Utah." Dunnigan said.

Healthy Utah was the governor's plan that failed to gain traction in the House. The new plan, called Utah Access+, changes how the state will cover its costs for the expansion.

"The state is proposing to pay about one-third of the expansion costs -- providers will be asked to pay for the other two-thirds," Dunnigan said.

Projections for 2021 put that gap in funding at just over $50 million. The new plan calls for the money to be paid by providers who get Medicaid payments through a series of fees and assessments.

The state hopes to recoup 7 cents for every $1 paid to those providers.

The Medicaid clock is ticking.  Alliance for Better Utah cited a Harvard study, showing 348 people have died in Utah waiting for coverage since the start of 2014.

"These are 348 Utahns who's lives could have been prolonged had they had access to health insurance through Medicaid," said Robert DeBirk, executive director of Alliance for Better Utah.

In two weeks, the Republican caucus in the House will meet again to take a position on the new plan. If it has support, Herbert could call a special session of the legislature in October.

Click here for more information on Medicaid expansion.