Affordable Care Act

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Governor Gary Herbert officially unveiled his plan Thursday to close the coverage gap and help low income Utahns get health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.

A regional director for US Department of Health and Human Services is in Utah to raise awareness about the second open enrollment period for health insurance.

Kim Gillan is the HHS Regional Director for six states in the Rocky Mountain region, but for the moment, her role in Utah is to be a health insurance cheerleader. Gillan says healthcare.gov is much more user friendly than it was in the first rollout and it’s operating smoothly.

Some people might think of November as the beginning of the holiday season, but for those involved in the health insurance field – it’s the beginning of another open enrollment season. Jason Stevenson of Utah Health Policy Project joins us to answer questions about health insurance this enrollment season, which begins Saturday, November 15th.

More information about open enrollment is available at Take Care Utah.

Office of Senator Orrin Hatch

Now that Republicans have a majority in the US Senate, Utah’s senior Senator Orrin Hatch will have more power and influence. He says he wants to try again to repeal Obamacare and roll back a tax on medical devices.

As Republicans celebrated election night, Senator Orrin Hatch was thinking about what could be accomplished with Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell as majority leader. For one thing, he wants to try again to get rid of a 2.3 percent medical device tax passed as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Governor Gary Herbert has concluded negotiations with the Obama administration on his Healthy Utah Plan, but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily take effect in Utah. The state legislature still has to weigh in, and lawmakers might be hatching a different plan.

A new poll shows that Utahns don’t know very much about Governor Gary Herbert’s plan to deliver health insurance to low-income citizens. But when they learn more, they tend to support it. KUER’s Andrea Smardon took to the streets to see for herself what Utahns know and don’t know about healthcare decisions facing state lawmakers. 

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert says he is very close to an agreement with the federal government on his proposal to provide health insurance for those under the poverty line.

Coming out of his meeting with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell in Washington, Governor Herbert says he’s gotten about 95 percent of what he’s asked for, and he’s optimistic that a final agreement should be reached shortly.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

A national poll shows Utah’s uninsured rate has not changed since the federal Affordable Care Act required all Americans to have health insurance.  This reflects trends across the country, where states that fully embraced the law's coverage expansion are experiencing a significant drop in the number of uninsured residents. But Utah and other states whose leaders still object to Obamacare are seeing much less change.

A federal court in Washington DC ruled Tuesday that Obamacare subsidies are illegal. Utah is among 36 states that would potentially be affected by this ruling, but for now, Utahns will continue to receive those subsidies.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Utah lawmakers were stunned to hear Thursday that the number of people who fall in the so-called health coverage gap is significantly higher than they thought. Researchers from the University of Utah presented results from a new report on the Medicaid eligibility expansion population to a state health committee.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Wearing fake grass skirts and plastic leis, health advocates took turns going under a limbo pole in front of House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart’s office Wednesday. The idea was to highlight the plight of Utahns who fall into the Medicaid coverage gap, and the pole was steadily lowered to represent each month this year that they have not been able to pay for healthcare. The mood was light, but Christine Stenquist quickly became emotional when she began talking about why she is taking part in this demonstration.

The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that two private companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. It’s the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law.

Brian Grimmett

The Salt Lake County Council is sending a letter this week to the Utah legislature asking them to support the Governor’s Healthy Utah Plan and accept Medicaid funds. County councilors have said those federal funds could offset a 12 percent budget shortfall for behavioral health services expected next year. But so far, state lawmakers are holding firm in their positions on Medicaid.

"Entitled to Life" screenshot

A film debuting Tuesday in Salt Lake City highlights Utah’s low income citizens who don’t have access to affordable health insurance.  The new documentary tells the stories of Utah adults who fall within the state's coverage gap, earning too little to buy subsidized insurance on healthcare.gov, but too much to receive Medicaid.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced this week that he’s made good progress negotiating with the federal government on his alternative to Medicaid expansion. The governor says there are still some sticking points in the negotiations – including work requirements for those receiving government assistance. But a new study shows that many of those citizens are already working.

A new report shows Utah ranks among the worst states in the nation for access and affordability to health care. The Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, DC, released its Scorecard on State Health System Performance this week.

Many faith leaders in Utah have been vocal about encouraging lawmakers to expand Medicaid in the state. But the dominant faith – the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – has been silent when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. In the meantime, one LDS ward in downtown Salt Lake City is quietly working to help congregants get access to health insurance.

Brian Grimmett

  Governor Gary Herbert says he doesn’t think Utah’s long delay in coming up with an alternative to expanding Medicaid has hurt the prospect of a successful program.

The legislative session ended without action by lawmakers on any proposal for reaching those who aren’t covered by either Medicaid  or the Affordable Care Act.  Governor Herbert has proposed a program funded by block grants from the federal government to buy private health insurance for those people.  He says the Obama administration has indicated it will be flexible in working out a solution.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is encouraging rural Utahns to sign up for health insurance before the federal deadline on Monday. Secretary Vilsack says that Utahns who live in rural areas have a lot to gain from the federal Affordable Care Act.

Brian Grimmett

  Another Utah legislative session has ended without a decision on Medicaid, but Governor Gary Herbert and healthcare advocates are declaring a victory of sorts.

Late in the session, Governor Herbert came out with his long-awaited proposal to get health coverage for Utah’s poorest citizens. He wants to use federal dollars to buy private coverage for low-income Utahns, but he first needs approval from the federal government. He asked state lawmakers not to limit him with any legislation that would hinder negotiations with the feds.

Brian Grimmett

When Governor Gary Herbert laid out his Healthy Utah plan Thursday he said he was confident that it would get support from the state legislature as well as the federal government.  But the governor’s proposal to accept federal money to help low-income Utahns buy health insurance may meet some resistance from Republicans in the state House…. especially the House speaker.

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert announced his long-awaited plan Thursday concerning Medicaid and health coverage for the poorest Utahns. He’s calling it Healthy Utah.

The Supreme Court decided in 2012 to let states choose whether to expand Medicaid as it was intended under the Affordable Care Act. Now, more than a year and a half later, after reviewing proposals from the state house, the senate, and panels of stakeholders, Governor Herbert finally revealed his plan.

Brian Shiozawa
Brian Grimmett

A Republican state senator has put forth a proposal for a partial expansion of Medicaid in Utah. Senate majority leaders say they are meeting Wednesday night to decide whether they will get behind this proposal, a different House plan that rejects Medicaid dollars, or another solution all together. 

Republican Senator Brian Shiozawa is an Emergency Room doctor. So he’s all too familiar with the coverage gap - those 54,000 Utahns who live in poverty and can’t get health insurance.

Brian Grimmett/KUER file photo

A Republican proposal to provide health coverage for those under the poverty line has advanced to the House floor for consideration, but lawmakers in charge of the budget say there is no money for it at this point, and time is running out to accept any new requests.

Andrea Smardon

Hundreds of people are expected at the Utah State Capitol Thursday afternoon to rally for those with substance abuse and mental health disorders. Advocates will be calling attention to a shortage in public funding for treatment, and they’ll be asking lawmakers to expand Medicaid.

Brian Grimmett

Republican state lawmakers have come up with a proposal to provide health insurance for those who fall below the poverty line, but it does not expand Medicaid in the state. Democrats say rejecting those federal dollars is irresponsible.

Brian Grimmett

Republican Congressman Chris Stewart gave a report on his efforts in Washington D.C. to members of the House and Senate today.

He told members of the Senate that he believes in the true idea of federalism, and advocated for a shift in power from his job in Washington to the Utah Legislature.

“I believe that we have enormous challenges and problems ahead of us, but most of those are best addressed at the state,” he said.

The Affordable Care Act is in effect across the country, but some Utahns are finding that they still don’t have any options for health insurance. As part of an ongoing series, KUER looks at those find themselves in this coverage gap. In today’s installment, we meet a 32-year-old who is in the process of coming out as transgender.

The Affordable Care Act is in effect across the country, but some Utahns are finding that they still don’t have any options for health insurance. As part of an ongoing series, KUER looks at those in this coverage gap. In today’s installment, we meet a 32-year-old who is in the process of coming out as transgender.

Brian Grimmett

Republican U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch touched on health care, immigration this morning when he addressed the Utah House and Senate Floors at the State Capitol.

Earlier this week, Hatch announced he is co-sponsoring a new Republican-led healthcare bill that he hopes will replace the Affordable Care Act. He says the Patient Choice Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment — or CARE — Act will cost less and have fewer mandates than the current health law.

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