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Utah Seeks Public Comments On Partial Medicaid Expansion

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Utah legislators are asking the federal government to approve their modified Medicaid expansion plan that would cover fewer people and could also save the state money.

Utahns can comment over the next few weeks on a proposed federal 1115 Waiver that the state needs to implement partial Medicaid expansion. Officials with the Utah Legislature are seeking federal approval of the plan they came up with to replace the full Medicaid expansion Utah voters approved last November. 
Backers of the partial plan say they're optimistic that federal officials will grant their request. But Stacy Stanford, policy analyst with the Utah Health Policy Project, says Medicaid may not approve program exceptions for Utah that they haven't okayed for other states.

"It's kind of a way to get around the law and do things that might not be exactly in line with the intention of the program," says Stanford.

In a controversial move, the Utah Legislature overturned the full Medicaid expansion, replacing it with a more limited plan that backers say would protect the state from cost increases. 

Comments on the state plan will be taken at a public meeting June 17 at the Multi Agency State Office Building in Salt Lake City. Comments can also be made by posting on a state website, or by email. The deadline is June 30.

The state wants to limit how much the government spends on each Medicaid enrollee, as a first step toward converting Medicaid to a block-grant program. Partial expansion also would limit eligibility to people with incomes at 100% of the federal poverty rate, instead of the normal 138%. And it would require many people to prove they're working or training for jobs. 

So, Stanford says there's a lot for Utahans to comment on. 

"Now people can speak up on that work reporting requirement and on the enrollment cap, as well as the per-capita cap and that partial expansion," says Stanford. "So, there are four pretty big things that people will be focusing on."

She adds the modified plan would only cover about 90,000 people, compared to about 150,000 under a full expansion. Information about the limited expansion and how to deliver public comments is online at ''