Governor Gary Herbert says Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and top officials at the White House were very receptive to his plan to help cover uninsured Utahns.
After his visit to Washington D.C. earlier in the week Governor Herbert says he’s confident that Secretary Sebelius will approve his Healthy Utah plan.
“As she said to me, I see nothing in your proposal, Governor, that would be a deal breaker.”
Herbert says the next step is negotiating all of the little details of the plan, including the possibility of a work requirement, premium costs, and co-pay amounts. As proposed, the Healthy Utah plan would help funnel low-income Utahns toward private insurance plans. The state would then subsidize those plans using money from the federal government that would have been used to expand Medicaid. People who fall above 100% of the federal poverty level will most likely also have to pay a premium equal to about 2% of their income.
“But this will be a work in progress, we don’t have all the answers to the issues because we don’t know what all the questions are," Herbert says. "But I’m confident that this will be a better approach for the Utah citizens and taxpayers than just taking on Medicaid expansion. “
Herbert also says he would like to reach an agreement with the federal government and receive approval from the state legislature for his plan by the end of summer. But he acknowledged that this timeline is very fluid. Even if everything does go according to plan, people would not be able to sign up and receive benefits in the Healthy Utah plan until at least January, 2015.