Health Care

Utah Governor Limits Voter-Approved Medicaid Expansion

Gov. Gary Herbert said that the new law "balances Utah’s sense of compassion and frugality."

Utah Governor Limits Voter-Approved Medicaid Expansion
Office of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

Utah's governor has signed a bill into law that limits the voter-approved expansion of Medicaid. 

Gov. Gary Herbert said the new law "balances Utah's sense of compassion and frugality. It provides quality coverage to the same population covered by Proposition 3 in a meaningful, humane and sustainable way." 

So here's what's going on: Back in November, Prop 3 was on the Utah ballot. It expanded the state's Medicaid program to "include coverage, based on income, for previously ineligible low-income adults" and used a state sales tax hike to pay for it. It passed with more than 53 percent of the vote. 

The NEW law Herbert signed limits the expanded Medicaid coverage to people at or below the poverty line. That's about $12,000 for a single person or $25,000 for a family of four. In states that have expanded their Medicaid coverage, people can qualify if their household income is below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That works out to about $16,000 for a single person or $34,000 for a family of four. The new law also requires people who receive Medicaid benefits to work, imposes a spending cap and creates a lock-out period if people violate certain requirements.

Herbert's move is expected to deny almost 50,000 low-income Utah residents access to Medicaid.

But the law depends on a waiver from the federal government. That waiver would split the cost for the partially expanded Medicaid. The government would cover 90 percent, and the state would cover 10 percent. If the government rejects Utah's waiver applications, the state will revert to the full expansion plan.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.