SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – A bill to expand Medicaid in Utah has been signed into law, but it still needs to get federal approval.
Representative Robert Spendlove who sponsored the bill and Matt Slonaker with Utah Health Policy Project stop by Inside Utah Politics to debate House Bill 472 and the Utah Decides Health Care ballot initiative.
“This bill completely covers the gap. It covers 60,000 people and does it in a way that require no new funding from the state. It gets enhanced funding from the federal government, so 90 percent of the costs is by the federal government and it has a work requirement to encourage people to improve their lives and it also has cost controls to make sure that the budget doesn’t go out of control,” said Spendlove.
But there are those who are skeptical that this bill wil receive federal approval.
“The problem with federal approval on this bill is what we’ve seen in the past is that these types of bills have been denied or not approved,” said Slonaker.
And as for the reasons why Slonaker doesn’t think this bill will receive approval.
“One is based on legal constraints. There’s simply no part of the federal code that will allow for a program to be guaranteed this enhanced Medicaid expansion match for a partial expansion. The other problem is really that it costs the federal government a lot more money and will they be willing to make these types of flexible arrangements with states and be willing to pay a lot more money for them.” Slonaker said.
Spendlove however disagrees and believes that approval will be granted.
“They asked us to do this. HHS, CMS, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services last year not only came to me, but they came to the governor and they said where we have told you no in the past, we’re now encouraging you to do this. We’re encouraging states to come back and try it again,” Spendlove said.