Affordable Care Act

Health Care
12:33 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Obama Administration Memos Reveal Utah Wanted Exchange Shut Down

Obama administration memos released this week reveal that Utah insurance officials requested to shut down the state’s shopping portion of the federal exchange last month. The request was made after Utah’s biggest issuer, SelectHealth, was not appearing on the website marketplace.

Utah’s Assistant Insurance Commissioner Tanji Northrup says it took a few days after the federal exchange was launched on October 1st to figure out there was a major problem.

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Health Care
3:56 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Why Some Utahns are Having Trouble Signing up for Medicaid

More than 4000 Utahns have been stalled in their efforts to get health insurance because federal and state computer systems are not yet able to communicate.  Officials from the state Department of Workforce Services say Utah was ready when the exchange went online October 1st, but the federal system was not.

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Health Care
4:16 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Utah’s New Health Insurance Rates Revealed

The federal health insurance exchange opened for business Tuesday, and state regulators have revealed the rates that Utahns have to choose from. In Salt Lake and Davis Counties, there is one insurer who has lower price plans than the rest. But insurance experts say consumers should look at more than just monthly premiums when making their choice.

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Local Government
3:54 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Outreach Begins for Health Insurance Enrollment Under Affordable Care Act

Enrollment councilors answer questions about health care plans.

In spite of a government shutdown, today begins the six month-long enrollment period in which consumers can start signing up for health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. This morning at the Sorenson Unity Center the Salt Lake City mayor’s office and Voices for Utah Children hosted a health care open house to help people navigate the various plans and sign up for coverage. 

Jose Caceres, a certified application councilor is walking a middle-aged man and his mother through the process of choosing a health insurance plan.

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Health Care
10:41 am
Sun September 29, 2013

Arches Health Plan Offers Non-Profit Alternative for Utahns

Open enrollment for the new health exchange marketplace starts October 1st, and Utahns will have a variety of options for health insurance. Among the choices is a new insurance provider called Arches Health Plan.  Arches is a non-profit cooperative governed by its members.  Joining KUER in studio is the CEO Linn Baker, who has a long history with healthcare in Utah.  He was founder and executive of the state’s Public Employee's Health Program for more than three decades.

Related Links:

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Health Care
9:35 pm
Sun September 15, 2013

Is Charity Care an Alternative to Expanding Medicaid in Utah?

Dr. Kurt Rifleman gives 6-year-old Jeremy Tarantino a check-up at Midtown Community Health Center in Ogden.
Andrea Smardon

As governor Gary Herbert weighs a decision on whether to extend Medicaid coverage to more low-income Utahns, a group of healthcare leaders appointed by the state has spent the summer exploring the options. Their findings will be presented to the governor at his health summit next week. Among those options, is to expand charity care in the state. KUER looks at what forms of charity care already exist in Utah, and whether this model could be a realistic alternative to expanding Medicaid.

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Health Care
5:40 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

99 Plans Offered on Federal Health Insurance Marketplace in Utah

Some information was released Thursday about how the Affordable Care Act will impact Utah consumers. Utahns shopping for health insurance on the new federal online marketplace will have 99 plan choices. The state insurance department provided an estimate for what these options will cost Utah consumers. They also compared prices to the state’s exchange for small businesses known as Avenue H.  

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Health Care
4:15 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Herbert to Decide on Medicaid Expansion in 2014

Utah Governor Gary Herbert

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he’ll likely make a decision on whether to expand Medicaid in the state by early next year. Utah is among a handful of states facing the decision as the Affordable Health Act rolls out this fall.  But the Governor told reporters at his monthly KUED news conference, he’s not in a hurry. 

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Health Care
4:24 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Regence BlueCross BlueShield Drops Out of Utah Exchange

One of Utah’s largest health insurance companies, Regence BlueCross BlueShield, will no longer be selling its plans on Avenue H, the state’s exchange for small businesses.

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Health Care
4:48 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

BYU Professor Says State Budget is Only Small Part of Medicaid Decision

Utah lawmakers have another study to consider as they make their decision on whether to expand Medicaid in the state. The Utah Department of Health hired BYU Public Policy Professor Sven Wilson to produce an independent economic analysis. Dr. Wilson presented his findings to the state’s Medicaid community workgroup this week. He says state lawmakers are missing the big picture on Medicaid.

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Health Care
5:01 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Utahns to Receive Health Insurance Rebates

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Thursday that about 140,000 Utahns will be receiving a rebate this year from their health insurance company. Utah residents will benefit from more than 4.5 million dollars in rebates from insurance companies this summer, averaging 85 dollars per family.

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Health Care
4:59 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Utah Considers Arkansas’ “Private Option” for Medicaid Expansion

Utah officials are keeping a close eye on Arkansas as they consider whether to expand Medicaid in the state. The Utah Department of Health held an informational conference call Thursday with Arkansas’ Medicaid Director Andy Allison. Members of Utah’s Medicaid Expansion community workgroup see promise in Arkansas’ unique model. It gives eligible low-income residents Medicaid expansion dollars to buy private health insurance. 

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Health Care
6:43 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Teen Pregnancy Rates Down in Utah; Some Credit Access to Birth Control and Sex Ed

Capitol West Boys and Girls Club Teen Center Director Jessica Hill and Esperanza, a teen in her class aimed at reducing teen pregnancy.
Andrea Smardon

As the public school year comes to a close, there will be fewer teen mothers in Utah missing out on graduation. Teen pregnancy rates in Utah have plummeted in the last few years. A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the rate of births to teen mothers across the country dropped by 25% from 2007 to 2011. The rate in Utah fell by almost 30 percent. Among Hispanic teens in the state – it dropped by 40 percent.

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Health Care
6:35 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Report Details Costs and Benefits of Utah’s Medicaid Options

The state's Medicaid Expansion Options Community Workgroup convenes at the capitol.
Andrea Smardon

Utah could save millions of dollars and provide health insurance to about 123,000 people if the state expands Medicaid. That was the conclusion of an independent cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the state. 

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Health Care
4:54 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Federal Government will Manage Utah’s High-Risk Health Insurance Pool

Many Utahns with preexisting medical conditions will see their health insurance shifted from state to federal oversight in July. After federal funding ran short for the “high-risk” insurance pool, state officials have refused to take on any additional costs. And federal health officials have refused to allow Select Health, the insurer that administers the program for Utah, to take responsibility. 

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Health Care
3:29 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Utah to be First State with Dual-Model Health Insurance Exchange

Utah Governor Gary Herbert

Utah has come to an agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services on how it will run its exchange – or health insurance marketplace. HHS has approved Utah’s first-of-its-kind proposal to split state and federal responsibilities. Under the agreement, Utah will continue running the state exchange known as Avenue H for small businesses. The federal government will run a separate exchange for individual consumers. 

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-KUER News Pod
12:26 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

KUER News Pod: Friday May 10, 2013

Utah considers walking away from a high risk insurance pool, the University of Utah considers stricter rules for skateboarders, and Dan Nailen shares why Salt Lake is in for night after night after night of good music.

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Health Care
3:59 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Utah May “Walk Away” from State High-Risk Health Insurance Pool

Utah is telling the federal government it’s not willing to take on more of the risk and the cost of insuring people with pre-existing health conditions. The US Department of Health and Human Services wants to cap federal spending on state-run high-risk pools because they are running out of funding. The Utah Governor’s office has until Friday to decide whether to absorb those costs in the state, or transition enrollees into a federal program – which they say will cost more out of pocket.

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Health Care
5:44 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Medicaid Expansion Community Workgroup Holds First Meeting

Medicaid Expansion Options Community Workgroup meets at the Utah State Capitol.
Andrea Smardon

A select group of healthcare providers, advocates, and community leaders met at the State Capitol Tuesday to discuss Medicaid, and the state’s pending decision on whether to expand the program to include more uninsured, low-income Utahns. Utah Department of Health Executive Director David Patton brought together about 20 people for the Medicaid workgroup.

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Health Care
9:56 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Lawmakers Set Course for Medicaid Decision

State Senator Todd Weiler (R-Woods Cross) introduced a substitute bill which does not prohibit the governor from expanding Medicaid.

Wednesday night, the Utah Senate guaranteed that Governor Gary Herbert will play a key role in deciding if the state will expand its Medicaid program. Lawmakers in both chambers approved  a substitute bill that now sets guidelines for how the Governor will make his decision.

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Health Care
3:19 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Supporters Rally for Medicaid Expansion

Supporters of Medicaid expansion rally at the Utah State Capitol
Dan Bammes

  Supporters of expanding Utah’s Medicaid program under the President’s health care plan don’t expect to see a decision during the legislative session.   But they came to Utah's state capitol Friday to make their point anyway.  

There were about a hundred people on the capitol steps for a rally in support of Medicaid expansion, but many more links in the paper chains they brought along.  Each of the 150-thousand links represents a Medicaid client in Utah – somebody like Stacey Stanford, who’s been in a wheelchair since a car accident in 2010.

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Politics
4:43 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Utah Democrats Push for Medicaid Expansion

State Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck talks about her bill that would begin the process of expanding Medicaid in Utah. She and other members of the Democratic caucus are calling on Governor Gary Herbert to expand the program.
Credit Terry Gildea

Utah Democrats in the state legislature called on Governor Gary Herbert today to move forward with increasing Medicaid coverage. States have the option to expand their programs under the Affordable Care Act.  

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Health Care
5:06 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Report Shows Medicaid Expansion Would Create Jobs, Stimulate Utah Economy

A new report shows that Utah’s economy would benefit from an expansion of Medicaid, creating thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity. 

The report comes from the national nonprofit organization Families USA and Utah Health Policy Project.  UHPP Director Judi Hilman told KUER an expansion of Medicaid will allow millions of federal dollars to flow into Utah, stimulating the economy.

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Health Care
4:23 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Advocates Make the Case for Medicaid Expansion, Lawmakers Say it’s Governor’s Decision

Louis Fazio argues in favor of expanding Medicaid at a meeting of the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee.
Andrea Smardon

Healthcare advocates converged on the Capitol Friday to encourage lawmakers to expand Medicaid to more low income residents, but state lawmakers held off on debate for now, and said the Governor will have to make the decision. 

Family physician Ray Ward kicked off the meeting of the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee with an impassioned plea for the expansion of Medicaid to cover an estimated 145,000 more low-income Utahns.

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Health Care
3:36 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Utah's Avenue H Gets Conditional Approval from Feds

The federal government has conditionally approved Utah’s health insurance exchange known as Avenue H.  But the feds say more work needs to be done for the state-based exchange to be compliant with the Affordable Care Act. 

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius praised Utah for making "significant progress" with its online insurance marketplace.  She says she’s confident Avenue H will be federally compliant by the deadline of October this year.  In a conference call, federal health administrator Gary Cohen essentially put the ball in Utah’s court.

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Healthcare
1:17 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Utah’s Health System Reform Task Force Ends with Unanswered Questions

The state’s Health System Reform Task Force had its final meeting Monday before the legislative session, but questions remain about health reform  - in particular, who will run Utah’s health insurance exchange.

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Healthcare
10:44 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Public Pushes for Health Benefits to Be Considered in State’s Medicaid Expansion Study

The Utah Department of Health has hired an outside firm to study the costs and benefits of expanding Medicaid in the state.  The department has been gathering feedback from the public on what should be considered in the study. 

Christina Osburn has a brain tumor and epilepsy.  She’s been on Medicaid for more than 10 years, but she expects to lose that coverage because her income will soon exceed the threshold to qualify.   

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Healthcare
4:51 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Governor's Budget Omits Funding for Medicaid Expansion

Governor Gary Herbert delivers his budget proposal at Granite Technical Institute on December 12th, 2012.
Andrea Smardon

Some healthcare advocates were disappointed Wednesday to find out that Governor Gary Herbert did not include funding for the expansion of Medicaid in his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Governor Herbert spoke very little about healthcare in his budget presentation except to say that he is proceeding with caution. 

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Healthcare
4:55 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Herbert Asks Obama to Leave Utah's Healthcare Exchange As Is

Governor Gary Herbert sent a letter to President Barack Obama Tuesday morning asking the federal government to let Utah keep Avenue H, the state’s health insurance exchange, without making changes to it. 

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Healthcare
4:11 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Crossroads Connects Hunger and High Cost of Healthcare

Crossroads Urban Center

Low-income advocates are asking Governor Gary Herbert to remember Utahns who can’t afford basic healthcare this holiday season.  On Friday, staff from Crossroads Urban Center and some uninsured Utahns presented results from a survey showing the connection between hunger and high healthcare costs. 

Crossroads Urban Center surveyed more than 300 of the people they helped with food this year. Marjorie Hurder is a Social Justice Advocate at the Center, and she conducted many of the interviews.

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