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Kristin Murphy/Deseret News

Gov. Herbert says special session on Medicaid expansion coming

By Lisa Riley Roche | Posted - Aug. 20, 2015 at 10:32 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers could be called into special session as soon as next month to vote on a new Medicaid expansion plan that's nearing completion, Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday.

The governor said the new plan to use the $600 million in federal funds available to the state under President Barack Obama's health care law to provide coverage to low-income Utahns should be ready in just a few weeks.

"We're getting closer," Herbert said on KSL Newsradio's "Let Me Speak to the Governor."

The governor and GOP legislative leaders have been meeting privately for months to come up with a proposal.

Herbert said he expects to be able to call lawmakers into a second special session by the end of September or in early October "to get this done." The governor's Healthy Utah plan stalled in the 2015 Legislature, as did a House alternative, Utah Cares.

The new plan will include assessments of hospitals, doctors, drug companies and others to pay the state's share of the program, which will amount to 10 percent of the cost by 2021.

The theory is the ones who benefit should be the ones who pay for it.

–Governor Herbert

"That way we don't have to raise taxes. The risk and the benefit are borne by those who are the beneficiaries of the money," Herbert said. "The theory is the ones who benefit should be the ones who pay for it."

While details of the plan have not been released, the governor said at least 14 and as many as 18 types of providers would end up paying the equivalent of 7 cents of every dollar of Medicaid expansion money they receive.

"I haven't heard anybody say no," Herbert said when talking about the plan earlier Thursday during a taping of his monthly news conference on KUED Ch. 7. "I think everybody is concerned, 'I'm going to be the only one paying.'"

What still needs to be determined, the governor said, is getting the "mathematics of it to make sure everyone pays their fair share. … That will be the final part of the puzzle."

Democrats held a news conference earlier this week to raise concerns that Medicaid expansion wasn't part of Wednesday's special session agenda, where lawmakers voted to move the Utah State Prison from Draper to a site in Salt Lake City.

Several of the more than 50,000 Utahns now in the so-called coverage gap spoke about waiting for lawmakers to act on Medicaid expansion because they do not qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act without it.

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Lisa Riley Roche


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