In breaking news, the Senate passed legislation allowing Governor Herbert to negotiate with the federal government for a block grant that would essentially cover people up to 138 percent of poverty. Though not an expansion of the Medicaid program, this grant would allow those up to the full expansion category to purchase private insurance with federal funding. The House has yet to vote on this plan, and passed an expansion version in committee that would use a much smaller amount in state dollars to cover fewer people. Though the federal government must give Utah a waiver for the Governor's plan, it is a breakthrough on receiving federal funding.
It is now up to House members to go ahead with this compromise. We need to know that we want them to work together to find a solution that covers everyone in the “coverage gap,” that provides a comprehensive health benefit to those in the program and that is cost-effective for the Utah taxpayer. By partnering with the federal government to help those in the “gap,” we use fewer state tax dollars and can bring back some of the federal tax dollars Utahns have paid into the system. Take a few minutes now to encourage your elected officials to move forward with a Medicaid expansion now.
We have also continued to see success in other areas of the legislative session:
- HB108, “Mobile Home Park Task Force,” creates a task force to address issues specific to those living in manufactured home parks. This population typically owns their home, but rents the land where it resides. This often creates unique issues that need to be addressed between park owners and home owners. This bill allows a venue for these issues to be addressed. AARP Utah spoke in support of this bill this week where it was passed out of the Senate committee with a favorable recommendation.
- Other air quality issues have continued to move forward this week as well. HJR23, which encourages our state to move to cleaner “Tier III” fuels, was passed out of a House committee this week. HB154, which helps convert homes heated by wood furnaces to cleaner natural gas furnaces, also passed out of a House committee and was then passed by the entire House.
Thank you for staying informed about issues relevant to our state and for ensuring your voice is heard in the process.
Director of Advocacy, AARP Utah