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Utah rejected for latest Medicaid waiver, but state leaders don’t appear to want voter-approved Prop. 3

Posted at 1:24 PM, Jul 27, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY — The state of Utah has been rejected for the latest Medicaid expansion waiver, the governor’s office confirmed Saturday.

The Trump administration informed the state it would not approve the latest request in a phone call late Friday, Gov. Gary Herbert’s office said. The state had previously gotten a 70/30 cost split with the federal government to provide healthcare for thousands of Utah’s poorest. The latest request was for a 90/10 split.

“While we are deeply disappointed by this latest development, we would like to reassure Utahns currently relying on Medicaid under the new expansion that they are still covered under the expansion that was activated on April 1, 2019. S.B. 96 funded medical coverage through June 30, 2020. We contemplated possible scenarios like this one, and S.B. 96 ensures the program moves forward as we navigate the complicated federal rules and regulations involved in Medicaid,” Gov. Herbert, House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams said in a joint statement on Saturday.

“We will continue to work closely with the Administration to ensure that Medicaid expansion is carried out in a way that provides coverage for Utahns in need without creating an unsustainable financial burden on Utah taxpayers.”

Voters approved Proposition 3 last year, raising the sales tax to provide full Medicaid expansion. The Utah State Legislature overrode that earlier this year, worried about cost management and burden on taxpayers. Under Senate Bill 96, the backup in case the waivers were not granted was Prop. 3. But in their statement, state leaders did not suggest that would happen.

“We remain committed to working together to find solutions to Medicaid expansion under the process set forth in S.B. 96. In the coming days and weeks, the governor and legislature will work in close partnership to evaluate the current situation to ensure Utah continues to provide a Medicaid program with long-term fiscal sustainability. We will share information with the public as new developments unfold,” the statement said.

Medicaid expansion proponents planned a Thursday event to push lawmakers to accept Prop. 3. The Utah Health Policy Project called on the state to implement full Medicaid expansion.

“The longer Utah waits to fully expand Medicaid, the more people are left out with no access to necessary care. There are thousands of low-income Utahns with no options right now, and others who are eligible but confused by the repeal-and-replace efforts. It is now even more clear that it is time for Utah to finally do the right thing and respect the will of the voters by implementing a full Medicaid expansion,” said Stacy Stanford, health policy analyst.

Utah is also participating in a separate legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act that is pending in court.