By Sutherland Staff
Published on February 27, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY — Today the Utah Senate voted in favor of SB 172 – Medicaid Waiver Amendments. This legislation, making changes to the current Medicaid system, can be explained in two parts.

First, it allows the Utah Department of Health to ask for federal funds or block grants for Medicaid recipients without burdensome restrictions on how they use the money. Second, if the block grant is denied, the bill would allow the health department to do three things:

  1. Require able-bodied Medicaid enrollees to have a job or be working toward a job
  2. Create an HSA option for Medicaid enrollees
  3. Enable Medicaid enrollees flexibility in paying for health care

Sutherland Institute Vice President Stan Rasmussen testified before committee in support of this bill and released the following statement:

“We believe that welfare programs such as Medicaid should be designed to help people achieve a dignifying life of self-reliance through earned success, like we all strive for,” Rasmussen said. “The restrictive structure of the current Medicaid program is not well-suited to achieve such outcomes. Instead, it leaves people worrying that their next job or promotion will mean the loss of their health coverage, thereby undermining their pursuit of a better life rather than aiding it.

“SB 172 begins a process to help reform Medicaid into a program designed to give able-bodied, low-income Utahns the tools they need – including a stable job, health coverage they can take with them, and affordable health services – to achieve a life in which they no longer need to rely on Medicaid for health coverage.

“Further, by pursuing federal Medicaid waivers that help able-bodied Utahns achieve a life of earned success for themselves, SB 172 is anticipated also to improve the ability of Medicaid to meet the needs of Utahns who are more likely to need Medicaid over the long term, such as low-income children and mothers, and the disabled. 

“For these reasons, we encourage the support of SB 172 and ask Utah’s House to take it into serious consideration.” 

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