Gov. Herbert weighs in on new Medicaid expansion proposal

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SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Gary Herbert weighed in on a new plan that would expand Medicaid to Utah’s poor and uninsured. He expressed cautious optimism that something would get done for thousands of Utahns waiting for Medicaid coverage.

During an interview at FOX 13 News studio Monday, Herbert summed up his strategy sessions with fellow governors and health care leaders at the National Governor’s Association retreat in Salt Lake City over the weekend.

“We are laboratories of democracy exploring all kinds of different solutions to different issues,” Herbert said.

In this story

  • What: Public hearing on Access Plus
  • When: Oct. 6 from 3-6 p.m.
  • Where: Utah State Capitol, 350 State Street, Room 30

Meanwhile, Utah continues to look for a solution to its Medicaid expansion problem.

Thousands of low-income Utahns who do not qualify for Medicaid are waiting for coverage. Last week, the so-called, “Gang of Six” lawmakers unveiled their answer – Utah Access Plus.

They would look to doctors, hospitals and clinics for much of the state’s cost to run the program, which would cost more than $50 million.

The governor said this plan could be a tough sell to House Republicans.

“I’ve heard the Speaker himself say, ‘we need to do something. Doing nothing is not an option.’ I’ve also heard him say that ‘let’s not let perfect be the enemy of good,’” Herbert said.

Herbert’s first plan, Healthy Utah, was rejected by House Republicans earlier this year. Some say it isn’t much different than Utah Access Plus.

While the governor and the senate may be on the same page, many House Republicans have signaled that they’ll be hard to convince.

“I put my mark out there with Healthy Utah, that didn’t pass so we’ve got to come up with something else and the legislature has come up with some good ideas and ways of maybe addressing some of the respective bodies,” Herbert said.

The public will get their only opportunity to weigh in on Utah Access Plus Tuesday at 3 p.m.

The Health Reform Task Force will meet at the Utah State Capitol in room 30.

From there, the Republican caucus in the House will meet again next week and declare the position they’re taking.

If approved, the governor could call a special session for later this month.