Utah Lawmakers May Consider a Partnership Health Exchange

Jan 4, 2013

Federal officials have given preliminary approval for Utah to run its own health insurance exchange marketplace, but some state lawmakers say they don’t want to run the exchange under the feds’ rules. 

Earlier this week, US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Utah officials that the state’s Avenue H exchange could be approved by the federal government if it meets certain requirements by October.  Republican Representative Jim Dunnigan is chair of Utah’s Health System Reform Task Force.  He says the feds are not giving Utah the flexibility that it requested.

“I think what they’re doing is patting us on the head, and saying OK Utah, that’s a good start.  Now you bring it into compliance with the other requirements and then you’ll have a real exchange,” Dunnigan told KUER, but he said that if Utah changes Avenue H to meet federal requirements, the state loses control.

“Their vision of the exchange and our vision of the exchange are not close to each other at all,” he said.  Dunnigan is in favor of a partnership exchange, where Utah continues to run Avenue H - its exchange designed for small businesses - and let the federal government provide an insurance marketplace for individuals.  Lawmakers are expected to meet this month with Governor Gary Herbert to talk about how the state should proceed.