Health Reform Task Force votes against governor’s Healthy Utah Plan

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Health Reform Task Force came together in a formal meeting Thursday at which members voted to not recommend Gov. Gary Herbert’s proposed Healthy Utah Plan to the Legislature, opting instead to recommend two other options.

Herbert officially released the details of his proposed plan at a press conference on Dec. 4, during which he said the proposed three-year pilot program would address the estimated 57,850 Utahns currently caught in the coverage gap created by the Affordable Care Act and the state’s Medicaid limitations

According to Herbert’s proposal, approximately 95,000 Utahns would be eligible for coverage under the Healthy Utah Plan. It would also enroll individuals who are unemployed or underemployed in training programs to better build their resumé on the job market.

In Thursday’s meeting, Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Jim Dunnigan gave a presentation to the task force, outlining three different options for consideration in expanding Utah’s health care coverage. These three options included the Healthy Utah Plan along with two other options that  concentrate on covering Utahns who are considered “medically vulnerable.”

People could be considered medically vulnerable, Dunnigan said, if they have: a disabling mental disorder, a chronic substance abuse disorder, a serious or complex medical condition, are determined disabled under Social Security, are a child in foster care or a child eligible for federal assistance, or are in and out of the correctional system or emergency rooms.

In the meeting, those who supported the Healthy Utah Plan spoke on how it is the most cost-effective option that would cover the most people, Jason Stevenson, communications director for the Utah Health Policy Project, said in an interview. Those against the plan said it would cost too much money, and a step-by-step approach would be better suited because it could be built upon as time passed.

In a close vote, it was decided that the task force would not recommend the governor’s plan to the Legislature but would, instead, recommend the other two options for the medially vulnerable.

“This is a setback,” Stevenson said, “but at the same time, the Healthy Utah Plan has a lot going for it in terms of support in the business community, from the hospital, as well as its underlying numbers that show it’s the most efficient and cost-effective plan to close the coverage gap in Utah.”

The two options chosen to receive the task force’s recommendation for legislature only differ by how minimally or broadly the definition of “medically vulnerable” is taken.

In his presentation, Dunnigan said the first medically frail option would cover those who meet a minimum definition of medically vulnerable — or an estimated one out of every eight individuals who fall below 100 percent of the federally identified poverty level.

“We’re calling this an extension,” Dunnigan said. “This has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act …. It would be perhaps a modification of our existing Medicaid waiver.”

The second option would allow for a broader definition of medically vulnerable and cover approximately 1 out of every 5 individuals below 100 percent of the federally identified poverty level.

Even though the Healthy Utah Plan did not receive the task force’s recommendation, Stevenson said he remains hopeful that the Legislature will still consider the plan in its upcoming session.

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  • koolaid December 19, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Is there a better option than the Herbertcare death panel plan?

  • Jaron December 19, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Utahn’s who fall into the coverage gap will continue to qualify for Utah’s “Crawl in a Dumpster and Die” plan, which has proven popular due to its low cost and emphasis on personal responsibility.

  • Joe Smith December 19, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    No one in Utah needs a health insurance policy anyway. Just go on down to your local ward bishop and he’ll fix you up real good.

    • Defender December 19, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      Yet another moronic comment from ol’ Joe. Too bad nobody fixed you.

  • MickeyD December 19, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    So under these two plans, the young, low-income Utah family with kids, who otherwise falls into the doughnut hole, would have no coverage; but the felon who is involved with Corrections gets insurance coverage. How asinine. So the recommendation to the young family will be, “commit a crime if you want coverage”. Now there is something good for the State.

    • Joe Smith December 19, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Of course that’s how it is and that’s how utah’s good old politicians like it. Maybe Herbert’s new slogan could be “if you don’t like how we do it, you can always move someplace else.”

    • GOPHER ROPER December 19, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      Well ya gotta consider the source. Only criminals get insurance it’s so simple a caveman can figure it out…

    • koolaid December 19, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Have so many kids that you can’t afford and then expect every social welfare plan to pay for them. Then beg for fundraisers

      • Joe Smith December 20, 2014 at 3:44 pm

        But at the very same time vote against all the social welfare programs your taking advantage of and rail on and on about how liberals are spending too much and destroying America and how Obamas going to take away all the guns!

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