Utah governor confident state, federal officials can agree on ‘Healthy Utah’

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert had a clear message when it came to his plan to use federal Medicaid expansion money in Utah: he’s confident he can convince the Obama administration and Utah’s legislature to go along with “Healthy Utah.”

“I feel very optimistic that over the next few weeks and months we’re going to be able to bring reconciliation to this issue and bring a proposal to the legislature that they will find acceptable,” Herbert said at his monthly news conference.

Healthy Utah is the governor’s plan to take federal Medicaid money and use it to help low-income Utahns pay for private health insurance. The patients would pay small premiums to have, in the governor’s words, “some skin in the game.”

The governor said a delegation from Utah met with positive feedback from the Department of Health and Human Services.

“There’s clearly a growing understanding in the Obama administration for the need for states to have more flexibility,” Herbert said.

In the meantime, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams cut the ribbon on the Mid Valley Health Clinic in Midvale. The mayor said primary care provided by the clinic will save money that would otherwise be spent on high-dollar crisis treatments at emergency rooms.

“What we’re trying to do is cut down the cost of health care and medical care to everybody,” McAdams said.

The clinic, created with an Affordable Care Act Grant, is run by Utah Partners for Health. It will provide low cost care at offices located in the Copperview Recreation Center.

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