SALT LAKE CITY — Utah officials aren’t making changes to the plan to expand Medicaid and institute a work requirement, despite a federal judge halting a similar effort in Kentucky last month, they said Wednesday.

The state is awaiting federal approval for its proposal and wouldn’t change course unless directed by the federal government, state Medicaid and Health Financing Director Nathan Checketts said.

“We’re looking to them if they’re going to revise that guidance in any way, and we’ll make a decision at that point how we’ll modify, if any, to meet that request,” he said after a meeting with state lawmakers.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., last month halted Kentucky’s first-in-the-nation experiment with job requirements for Medicaid, ruling the state could not require people to be employed to keep their benefits. U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg said President Donald Trump’s administration didn’t adequately consider how the requirement could cause tens of thousands of people to lose coverage.

The ruling was seen as a potential warning for states, including Utah, that have eyed enacting similar requirements for Medicaid, the federal-state health program for low-income and disabled people.

Earlier this year, Utah’s Legislature approved a limited Medicaid expansion that included a work requirement and a cap on the state’s spending. The program needs approval from the Trump administration before it can go into effect.

Even if the administration decided to back off from its past support of Medicaid work requirements following the judge’s ruling, it wouldn’t need to block Utah’s Medicaid expansion, said state Rep. James Dunnigan, a Republican and chairman of the health reform task force. The administration could allow the expansion to go forward without the work requirement, he said.

“It’s not an all-or-nothing,” he said.

The state’s plan would cover roughly 70,000 additional low-income people living below the federal poverty level, or $12,140 annually …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

      

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