Utah Will Expand Medicaid Under Obamacare

January 23, 2014 3:39 p.m.

Utah will expand Medicaid under Obamacare, its Republican governor said Thursday.

“Doing nothing … I’ve taken off the table. Doing nothing is not an option,” Gov. Gary Herbert said at his monthly news conference, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

The state legislature has endorsed two plans for expanding Medicaid through private coverage, as Arkansas has already done. Under one plan, Medicaid dollars would pay for people up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level to purchase private insurance on HealthCare.gov. The alternative plan would use Medicaid dollars for people up to the poverty level to buy private coverage on HealthCare.gov; those above the poverty level would receive federal tax subsidies to help purchase insurance through the federal website.

It’s not clear which strategy the state will adopt, and Herbert didn’t express a preference. Medicaid expansion would cover 60,000 Utahans, according to the Tribune. Utah would be the 26th state, along with Washington, D.C., to accept expansion.

A privatized Medicaid expansion plan would require approval from the Obama administration, but federal officials have already signed off on a similar plan in Arkansas.

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