State lawmakers say Medicaid expansion ideas can flow after meeting with feds

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – The clock is ticking for the committee charged with finding a solution to the states Medicaid coverage gap.

The committee has a self imposed deadline of July 31, 2015 to reach an agreement.

The group made up of of six lawmakers committed to continue working on it after the Healthy Utah and Utah Cares plans failed to get enough support in the legislative session.

“As I’ve heard the Speaker say before, doing nothing is not an option, so we’re trying to find what that something is we can do,” said Governor Gary Herbert, (R-UT).

The latest step is a face to face visit with HHS Secretary, Sylvia Burwell in Washington D.C. where concerns about sustainability and more were put on the table.

“To really have that, I thought substantive dialogue I think went miles for me. I think it was an important meeting and certainly one we plan to build on,” said Speaker of the House, Greg Hughes, (R-Draper).

It doesn’t appear the committee is any closer to an agreement, but they say they all have new ideas on how they can come together.

For now that debate will continue in private.

Josh Kanter with Alliance for a Better Utah says that’s bad policy.

“To the extent closed door meetings are effectively being used to circumvent accountability, that’s a problem for the entire process where accountability and transparency provide part of the checks and balances on which our system is based,” said Kanter.

The committee insists they need to work out of view of the public eye as they hash out what they see as the biggest sticking point, the financial risk.

“If it isn’t sustainable we do everybody a disservice,” said Senate President, Wayne Niederhauser, ( R ) Sandy.

Governor Herbert says the committee is not subject to open meeting rules and is not breaking the law.

He says the public will likely get a chance to weigh in the next 2 to 3 weeks.

Once the committee comes to an agreement a special session will be called to get the legislatures approval.

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