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health care

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.

Utah's Avenue H Gets Conditional Approval from Feds

Jan 3, 2013

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.

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.

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. 

The Salt Lake Chamber is trying to help Utah businesses rein in their healthcare costs.  They released their online guide Thursday called an Employer’s Tool Box.

Rich McKeown is chair of the Salt Lake Chamber’s Health Reform task force.   He told KUER the Employer’s Tool Box helps businesses exercise some degree of control over healthcare costs. 

Legislators, Lobbyists Debate Women's Rights

Nov 29, 2012
Brian Grimmett

There was little agreement between the panelists at a debate Wednesday night at the University of Utah over lawmakers’ recent decision to increase the state’s abortion waiting period.

KUER News Pod: Tuesday November 20, 2012

Nov 20, 2012

Governor Herbert sends a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the “Tar Sands Monster” pays a visit to downtown Salt Lake City, and the Utah State Board of Regents OK’s a policy change that could increase college tuition for those who drag their feet.

Governor Gary Herbert sent a letter Monday morning to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  The letter declares the Governor’s intentions to continue to pursue Utah’s state-based health insurance exchange – known as Avenue H, rather than a federally-designed exchange.  But the letter also says that this decision could change as the state receives more information. 

Enclosed with Governor Gary Herbert’s letter is a list of top ten unanswered questions about federal exchanges. 

Governor Gary Herbert plans to send a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services Friday declaring the state’s intentions on its health insurance exchange. Up until now, the Governor’s Office has not said whether the state will update its existing exchange, Avenue H, to meet requirements of the Affordable Care Act - or let the feds create their own exchange in the state. But Utah’s Health Reform Implementation Coordinator Norman Thurston says the letter doesn’t commit the state to anything.

KUER News Pod: Thursday November 15, 2012

Nov 15, 2012

The state Legislature discusses a proposal to fix the state’s data security issues, the governor’s public lands policy coordinator says a lot more study needs to be done before taking over federal lands, and Salt Lake City conducts a community food assessment.

The state Health and Human Services interim committee unanimously supported draft legislation Wednesday aimed at fixing problems related to the state’s Medicaid data breach that left more than 800 thousand Utahn’s personal information vulnerable.

Intermountain Medical Center Celebrates Five Years

Oct 29, 2012
Andrea Smardon

Intermountain Medical Center in Murray turned five years old Monday, and some of the hospital’s smallest and very first patients were there to celebrate. 

First in line for birthday cake were triplets Natalia, Connor, and Janessa Nagel.  They were also the first patients transferred by Life Flight to the newborn ICU on October 29, 2007, the morning Intermountain Medical Center opened its doors.  Hospital Administrator David Grauer said he remembers the moment well.

Utah Priorities Project: Health Care

Oct 9, 2012

The Affordable Care Act promises to extend the reach of health care coverage to many people who don’t have it now.  Critics say it will do that at a huge cost in both money and individual liberty.  But the mandate in the law for nearly everyone to buy health insurance has been upheld by the U-S Supreme Court and that requirement will take effect in 2014.  The question facing Utah and the rest of country is how to implement the provisions that are maintained by the states.

A Health Exchange by Any Other Name...

Oct 4, 2012

Utah’s Health Exchange has a new name, along with a new website.  State leaders say they want to distance themselves from the Affordable Care Act.  Starting Thursday, the program which connects small businesses with health insurance carriers will be called Avenue H. 

KUER News Pod: Thursday October 4, 2012

Oct 4, 2012

Our coverage of the Utah Priorities Project moves forward with a look at the Environment, Salt Lake County Mayoral candidate Ben McAdams introduces an education plan, and Utah is seeing the largest number of whooping cough cases in more than 60 years.

Governor Gary Herbert goes on a diet, renovations of State Street in South Salt Lake County near completion, and electric motorcycles hit a road near you.

KUER News Pod: Tuesday September 11, 2012

Sep 11, 2012

Governor Herbert recognizes Patriot Day, the Utah Department of Health moves forward with a controversial overhaul of Medicaid, and University of Utah Professor Dan McCool is optimistic about the state of the countries rivers.

The Utah Department of Health released new data Wednesday estimating that more than 13 percent of the population went without health insurance last year.  That’s about 3 percentage points higher than the previous year, but health officials say the increase is at least partly due to improved survey methods. 

UDOH spokesperson Tom Hudachko says you can’t make a fair comparison between numbers in 2010 and 2011 because state survey methods were changed significantly.  For example, pollsters are now calling cellphones instead of just land lines. 

Some Utah Doctors say the state’s new asthma plan should also address pollution, a confrontation between a Hollywood production company and the Bureau of Land Management has some Utahns worried about the state’s film reputation, and Utah’s GOP delegation at the Republican National Convention takes part in a day of service.

Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke criticized Utah’s involvement in a multi-state plan to take over the administration of Medicare but some key republicans also think that’s a bad idea.

Lawmakers Decide on Benchmark Health Insurance Plan

Aug 17, 2012

The state’s Health System Reform Task Force has decided on essential health benefits that all insurance companies must cover.  Lawmakers argued that the benchmark plan should cover the bare minimum to keep it affordable, but some advocates are concerned that it falls short in some areas.

KUER’s Andrea Smardon takes a look at Salt Lake County’s new Caregiver Academy, Salt Lake City announces the architect for the downtown performing arts center, and Republican Mia Love gets a fundraising boost from the Speaker of the U.S.House of Representatives.

Andrea Smardon

After the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, states are faced with a decision on whether to expand Medicaid eligibility.  Utah remains undecided.  In the last story in our series, The Future of Medicaid in Utah, we look at how the decision affects all of us as taxpayers and healthcare consumers. 

Utah's members of the U.S. House of Representatives vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the state of Utah accuses a major oil company of double dipping, and the state forester bans target shooting in parts of four counties.

Utah’s Congressional delegation all voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. House Wednesday including Democrat Jim Matheson.

Republicans Jason Chaffetz and Rob Bishop voted along party lines, but Matheson was one of only five Democrats who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Matheson says he has consistently opposed the bill.

The Salt Lake County mayor’s race finally has an official Republican nominee, the Bureau of Land Management pushes back a decision on the Alton Coal mine expansion, and Utah lawmakers review the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act.

Utah Lawmakers Undecided on Medicaid Expansion

Jul 10, 2012

Since the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, governors in four states have declared they will not expand Medicaid. Utah is currently undecided. State lawmakers met Tuesday to review the Supreme Court’s decision - and Utah’s options.

Republican Representative James Dunnigan of Taylorsville is chair of the state’s Health System Reform Task Force. He says the expansion of Medicaid is a big policy decision for Utah, and lawmakers are still gathering information. 

The Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act leaves Utah to decide for itself whether it wants to expand Medicaid. The court determined that the federal government cannot withhold states' Medicaid allotment if they don't increase their coverage levels. But the federal government can provide extra funds to those states who do choose to expand Medicaid.

Andrea Smardon

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act collected at the Capitol today to talk about what the Supreme Court ruling means for Utah. Judi Hillman, Executive Director for the Utah Health Policy Project, says that changes included in the ACA can now move forward in Utah – including insurance for those with pre-existing conditions.

The U.S. Supreme Court rules on the Affordable Care Act, multiple wildfires continue to burn throughout the state, and Dan Nailen previews one of the biggest concerts of the summer. That and more in today's News Pod.

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