Governor Herbert releases Utah’s health care plan, critics concerned

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Utah Governor Gary Herbert released his health care plan for the state Friday.

It's a split-exchange model, meaning Utah will be in charge of health care plans for small businesses, and the federal government will manage health care for individuals.

Governor Herbert reached an agreement with the federal government on Utah's online health exchange. For small businesses, Utah will continue to run its own marketplace called Avenue H. It's set up similar to Priceline.com. This is where employees can choose health care plans using the online exchange. The idea is to give people more health plan choices and more control over their health insurance costs.

Critics are concerned about keeping Avenue H, saying it hurts people who are struggling financially and doesn't meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. It does not allow employees to be screened for Medicaid or CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Plan), which they may benefit from, and it will not share any information about Utah employees with the federal database.

"We have about 320 small businesses on the exchange right now, and they're calling it a success? We've got over 60,000 small businesses in the state," said Judi Hillman with the Utah Health Policy Project.

Governor Herbert believes this health care model will be something other states will want to follow.

"We''ll do the small business side, federal government will do the individual mandate, and we won't compete with each other in that responsibility," Governor Herbert said. "I know speaking from a Utah perspective, we feel good about this. We feel good about this fourth option. We think other states might want to consider following the example that we're setting here."

For individual health care exchanges in Utah, the federal government will assume control.

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