Have You Officially Weighed in on Utah's Medicaid Expansion?
The answer is probably no, unless you are one of the 40 Utahns who have officially weighed in on the expansion proposal, even though Utah’s Medicaid expansion comment period ends on Wednesday.
During this past legislative session, a bill was passed that gave direction to the Utah Department of Health to apply for a Medicaid expansion waiver called the 2017 Adult Expansion Group. Now, the Utah Department of Health’s
Medicaid and Health Financing office has the responsibility of getting official public comments about the health coverage improvement plan that could provide medical coverage to some of Utah’s poorest adults.
Tom Hudachko, the director of communications for the Utah Department of Health, said the waiver creates a new eligibility population for Medicaid. The proposal will expand Medicaid to approximately 9,000 to 11,000 Utahns who are don’t currently qualify. This includes parents with dependent children earning up to 60 percent of the federal poverty level or adults without dependent children earning up to 5 percent of the federal poverty level who are chronically homeless. It also includes those who are involved in the justice system or needing substance abuse or mental health treatment.
Hudachko said the Utah Department of Health has only received 40 comments, despite it being open for about 25 of the 30 days available. During that time, department officials hosted three public hearings, along with informal meetings, to probe for comments about the proposal.
“It could be a situation where people feel like they’ve had ample opportunity in the legislative setting rather than commenting specifically to the health department,” he said.
However, Hudacko said those comments from the 2016 Legislative Session about Medicaid expansion will not be considered in the waiver proposal.
“The only comments that will be considered during part of the waiver process are the comments we receive during this 30 day processing period,” he said.
Official public comments are due by June 8. The Utah Department of Health will then review the comments and update the waiver based on the feedback. They will then submit the final draft to the federal government on July 1 for approval. Hudachko said he hopes to have a decision made by in the end of 2016, so the health department can begin accepting applications and enrolling newly eligible people by January 1, 2017.
To find out more information about how to submit an official comment, click here.