Advocates warn of new gaps created by Medicaid expansion plan

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – It’s a day years in the making for Utah adults who fell into the Medicaid coverage gap and had no option for health insurance.

They are now eligible for coverage, but advocates say new gaps have been created.

April 1, 2019, is the day advocates of Proposition 3 had their eye on, but it’s not what they hoped for.

“For now, just trying to educate folks that we’re not getting the bridge plan that’s being advertised, we’re getting a broken bridge plan,” said Stacy Stanford, with Utah Health Policy Project.

Prop 3 would have expanded Medicaid coverage to Utah adults who live at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

The modified plan passed by the legislature provides Medicaid to those at or below 100% and keeps the rest on the exchange.

“We are paying more of Utah’s taxpayers dollars to cover fewer people, that’s what is happening under this partial expansion,” said Jessie Mandle, with Voices for Utah Children.

Advocates say new gaps are being created through work efforts, enrollment caps, and affordability.

Leonard Bagalwa is just below the 138% mark and says he can’t afford the $250 monthly premium he can get on the exchange.

“I have four children, family of six to feed and I have some other bills to pay. So, it’s kind of hard for me,” said Bagalwa.

State lawmakers insist the modified plan is more sustainable and cheaper down the road.

They say full expansion is the backup if federal waivers don’t come through.

“So, July 1, 2020, if we don’t have our second requested waiver where the federal government is paying 90%, we will expand all the way up to 138% of poverty,” said Rep. Jim Dunnigan, (R) Taylorsville.

Advocates won’t say if they are working on a lawsuit over the work requirement, but Dunnigan says they aren’t married to it and it can be removed.

Of course, all of this would be a moot point if Republicans can repeal Obamacare.

That idea is gaining steam again in D.C.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...