Federal grant approved to extend Medicaid coverage to 70-90K more Utah adults

The Utah Department of Health. Photo: health.utah.gov

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 29, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Department of Health announced Friday that it has been granted federal approval to extend Medicaid coverage to as many as 90,000 more Utah adults than are currently covered.

“We just received federal approval to extend #Medicaid coverage to an additional 70,000-90,000 #Utah adults,” the tweet says. “Applications will be accepted starting Monday at https://medicaid.utah.gov/apply-medicaid. More info here

The second link takes readers to information about who may qualify.

“Under the newly approved plan, Utah residents who earn up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, about $12,492 for an individual or $25,752 for a family of four, will be eligible to receive full Medicaid benefits. The federal government will cover approximately 70 percent of the cost of the new program; the State of Utah will cover the remaining 30 percent.”

It also shares the following prepared statement:

“It isn’t easy to design a program that cares for the whole needs of a person, including the social determinants that we know have such a large impact on health like work and community engagement,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

“Governor Herbert and his team have shown tremendous leadership by developing a sustainable Utah solution that extends coverage while helping to lift families from poverty instead of trapping them in public assistance.

“Today’s federal approval also allows the state to cap enrollment in the program if there are insufficient state funds available to match the federal funds. It also includes authorization to implement a self-sufficiency requirement and to require eligible individuals to enroll in their employer-sponsored insurance plans, if available. However, these two requirements will not be implemented until January 2020.

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“‘This is an important first step in covering vulnerable Utahns in a financially sustainable way,’ said Governor Gary R. Herbert. ‘But it’s just a first step. In the coming months, we will submit a detailed proposal seeking a new funding arrangement with CMS that will decrease the state’s share of the costs, provide the federal government with assurances on its costs, and provide the state with additional flexibility to manage the program.’

“Later this spring, at the direction of Senate Bill 96 sponsored by Sen. Allen Christensen and Rep. Jim Dunnigan, the UDOH will submit a second request to CMS. The new request will seek to increase the federal share of the cost of the program to 90 percent and will include additional provisions such as a cap on federal funding, the ability to provide housing supports, and allowing up to 12 months of continuous eligibility.

“‘We have been working on Medicaid expansion for many years in our state. This approval builds on the work we have done in previous years to cover parents, the homeless, and those involved in the justice system,’ said Rep. Dunnigan. ‘It is exciting to see the state’s work come to fruition and for us to begin covering all of the adults who are in the coverage gap.’

“Sen. Christensen added, ‘We are very pleased with CMS’s responsiveness to this waiver request.  We look forward to working with them on our Per Capita Cap request.’

“To be eligible for the new program, individuals must be a Utah resident between the ages of 19 and 64, be a U.S. citizen or legal resident, and meet income requirements. Information on how to apply for Medicaid can be found at https://medicaid.utah.gov/apply-medicaid.”

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