A new year means a new session for the Utah State Legislature, which convenes on January 28 and wraps up a short 45 days later on March 14. Despite such an abbreviated session, over 400 bills will be passed, with hundreds more considered by legislative committees but not enacted into law.
AARP Utah has been involved in interim legislative sessions throughout the year, but no bills can actually be passed by the full legislature until the regular session begins in January. As part of a coalition of other stakeholders, we will be looking to expand Medicaid coverage to all adults (not just those with children) covering people up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Currently, only people with children are covered, and then only up to 44 percent of the FPL. The Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) will pay the entire cost of this expansion through federal funding for the first three years, and will pay 90 percent of the cost thereafter. For Utah, this means over 100,000 people would have access to affordable health care instead of having no coverage or going to the emergency room for costly, one-time treatment.
AARP Utah will also be working with state legislators, businesses, insurance companies, and other non-profits on Utah’s health insurance exchange, a marketplace where consumers ship for plans that best meet their needs after receiving premium support from their employers or other programs. The Utah insurance exchange has been up and running in advance of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which directs states to offer exchanges by 2014 or offer consumers a federally-run option (with certain exceptions).
Danny Harris, AARP Utah’s Associate State Director for Adocacy, will be leading AARP’s efforts and providing updates on the bills AARP Utah will be following throughout the legislative session. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on this list or with any questions about the legislature. To be a part of the national AARP’s legislative efforts, go to www.aarp.org/getinvolved to receive e-newsletters and advocacy alerts about our national priorities, such as Medicare and Social Security.
[Photo courtesy of Don Wilhelmsen]