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Utah works to enforce, explain Medicaid expansion scenarios

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As Utah moves to make changes to its Medicaid program, it becomes more essential for voters, policy makers and business and community leaders alike to understand the complex proposed changes. (Photo: SBG)

(KUTV) - As Utah moves to make changes to its Medicaid program, it becomes more essential for voters, policy makers and business and community leaders alike to understand the complex proposed changes.

However, Medicaid policy's can often be complex and difficult to understand.

"Medicaid policy options are complex to even those of us who work closely with the program," Laura Summers, senior heath care analyst at the Gardner Policy Institute and author of the brief, said in a news release. "The research culls essential and helpful information that will help Utahns understand and make informed decisions about Medicaid expansion."

A brief released by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute details information on the program elements, federal and state costs, lessons learned from other states, and policy considerations associated with each scenario.

Here is a summary of each Medicaid scenario:

Medicaid Waiver Expansion

In 2018, the Utah State Legislature passed a bill that would expand Medicaid to over 70,000 adults with income up to 100 percent of federal poverty level. In order to pay for this, the state will impose a tax on hospitals.

Utah has submitted a waiver application to the federal government to accept the following changes to Medicaid: Pay the extra costs of providing care to the adult expatiation population, allow a work requirement as condition of eligibility, allow caps on enrollment and require adults to enroll in qualifying employer-sponsored insurance.

It is unclear at this time whether the government will approve of these changes.

Proposition #3: Utah Decides Healthcare Act

In November, Utah voters will have the opportunity to vote on Proposition 3, the Utah Decides Healthcare Act of 2018. The Act will include a 0.15 percentage point increase in the sales tax rate to pay for the expanded coverage, according to a news release.

This will make Medicaid available to more than 100,000 adults.

Enhancement Waiver Program

This program is the default scenario if the first plan is not approved by the federal government and if the Utah Decides Healthcare Act does not pass.

The Enhancement Waiver Program would give medical benefits to over 13,000 Medicaid enrollees with a limited benefit package and reduce medical benefits for about 10,000 Medicaid enrollees, according to a news release. The state would leverage an existing hospital tax to help pay for the extra benefits.

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