What is the Medicaid waiver?
During the 2016 legislative session, Representative Jim Dunnigan passed House Bill 437 (HB437) as a compromise to full Medicaid expansion adopted by many states after the ACA was passed. This compromise would provide coverage to 16,000 of the neediest Utahans, instead of the 125,000 that a full expansion would cover.
Because the expansion is only partial, it requires a waiver to be implemented by the federal government. While this was expected to happen quickly, the changes in administration and subsequent attempts to repeal the ACA has resulted in a delayed process. While waiting for waiver approval, the Utah Medicaid office has included an amendment to that waiver. A few of the items within that amendment include things like:
- Limitations for the number of months that adults without dependent children may be covered
- Work requirements for those receiving PCN (a form of coverage similar to Medicaid but with reduced coverage and higher copays)
- A higher copay for parents making non-emergent visits to the emergency room
While we support the intent to reduce Medicaid costs overall in an effort to cast a wider net of coverage for low income individuals, we have some concerns about these particular requirements. Why? These specific requirements will harm an already vulnerable population and put up barriers for those seeking care. Additionally, numerous health care studies show that increased copays do NOT reduce emergency room visits but DO increase administrative costs for already stretched hospitals who are required to attempt collection.
Medicaid Waiver Comment Period
The state has already accepted comments on these proposed amendments. A short federal comment period is open for public input on the proposed changes to the Utah Medicaid waiver until September 30, 2017. Speak up for good Medicaid policy in Utah today.
CALL TO ACTION
- Click here to leave a comment on the Medicaid.gov website before September 30, 2017 asking officials to approve Utah’s 1115 Medicaid Waiver WITHOUT the amendments. The amendments were made outside of the legislative process and do not benefit Utahns or our cost-cutting goals. However, we do need the original Medicaid Waiver to be approved for the thousands of Utahns who are waiting to receive the care our legislature voted to put in place on their behalf over a year ago.
- UPDATE: Attend this public forum event in Salt Lake City on Monday, September 18th at 6:30p at the Salt Lake Public Library to learn more about the Medicaid Waiver and its impact on health care in Utah.