Utah’s novel plan for Medicaid expansion opens door to spending caps sought by GOP

Utah’s proposal to limit federal and state funding on Medicaid is a radical change

By Phil Galewitz
Published February 18, 2019 12:59PM (EST)
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via AP)
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via AP)

This article originally appeared on Kaiser Health News.

Utah this week became the 35th state to approve expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but advocates for the poor worry its unusual financing could set a dangerous precedent and lead to millions of people losing coverage across the country.

That’s because the plan includes unprecedented annual limits on federal and state spending.

Those restrictions would be a radical change for Medicaid. Since it began in 1966, the state-federal health program for low-income residents has been an open-ended entitlement for anyone who meets eligibility criteria. State and federal spending must keep pace with enrollment.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, is concerned that the state and federal Medicaid funding caps can limit how many people are enrolled and what services they receive. She said no state has before tried to cap its own funding.

“This is a way for the state to look like it’s doing expansion when they are really doing very little,” she said.

If Utah’s plan is approved, Alker added, other states that have already expanded Medicaid and some that are considering it will likely seek to strike a similar deal.

Phil Galewitz

MORE FROM Phil Galewitz

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Affordable Care Act All Salon Gop Kaiser Health News Medicaid Science & Health Utah