Denied: Utah political leaders respond to White House denial of Medicaid expansion request


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Utah political leaders are “deeply disappointed” after the United State Federal Government shot down their Medicaid waiver request before it was even submitted.

Last Fall, Utah voters approved a measure expanding Medicaid coverage to residents making between 100 to 138 percent of Federal Poverty Level guideline but instead of implementing it the State Legislature passed a smaller expansion in the form of Senate Bill 96.

Utah planned to ask for the Federal Government to pay for 90 percent of medicaid coverage for that group instead of the current 70 percent but late Friday night the Feds informed Utah leaders that the request would be denied.

On Saturday, Governor Gary R. Herbert (R – Utah), Senate President Stuart Adams (R – Layton) and House Speaker Brad Wilson (R – Kaysville) issued a joint statement in response. It reads:

“Late Friday the State of Utah received a call from the White House informing state leaders that its most recent Medicaid waiver request, which had yet to be formally submitted, would not be approved.
On April 1, 2019, phase one of S.B. 96, Medicaid Expansion Adjustments, expanded Medicaid coverage to Utahns living within 0-100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), funded at a 70/30 federal/state match rate. Those living between 100-138 percent of the FPL are currently covered through the exchange. The waiver in question represented phase two of the four phase process set in motion by S.B. 96 and would have transitioned funding to an enhanced 90/10 federal/state match rate. 
While we are deeply disappointed by this latest development, we would like to reassure Utahns currently relying on Medicaid under the new expansion that they are still covered under the expansion that was activated on April 1, 2019. S.B. 96 funded medical coverage through June 30, 2020. We contemplated possible scenarios like this one, and S.B. 96 ensures the program moves forward as we navigate the complicated federal rules and regulations involved in Medicaid. 
We will continue to work closely with the Administration to ensure that Medicaid expansion is carried out in a way that provides coverage for Utahns in need without creating an unsustainable financial burden on Utah taxpayers. 
We remain committed to working together to find solutions to Medicaid expansion under the process set forth in S.B. 96. In the coming days and weeks, the governor and legislature will work in close partnership to evaluate the current situation to ensure Utah continues to provide a Medicaid program with long-term fiscal sustainability. We will share information with the public as new developments unfold.”

Senate Bill 96 contains a fallback measure to full Medicaid expansion in the event that the waivers were denied.

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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...

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