Herbert Says He’s Close to an Agreement with the Feds on Healthy Utah

Gov. Gary Herbert says he expects to have a “finished product” on his Healthy Utah plan sometime within the next two or three weeks.

Herbert is meeting with federal officials this week to hammer out the final details on his alternative to Medicaid expansion. He says they’re about 95% of the way there, and the main sticking point left is the requirement that those covered by Healthy Utah be employed or looking for a job.

Herbert says they’ve been working toward a compromise that would offer job training and education as part of the program.

“We couch this as a benefit in addition to healthcare,” said Herbert via conference call. “If you are able bodied or unemployed, you should get some help finding work to improve your opportunities in the workforce.”

Herbert has been meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to come up with a final agreement.

The Governor said they still have more negotiations, but they are heading into the home stretch and should be able to resolve the final details fairly soon.

“I wouldn’t say we reached an agreement yet, but both of us understand conceptually what we are trying to accomplish with Healthy Utah.”

Herbert says the feds have given Utah “maximum flexibility” to find an alternative to Medicaid expansion that works for Utah.

“They have told us what we’re trying to do has not been offered before,’ he said. “We’re breaking new ground, and this fits with our culture and values. It’s a proposal that’s unique to Utah.”

Herbert said HHS needs a little more time to chew on the details of Healthy Utah before they can come to a final agreement. When that happens, Herbert will then take the proposal to the Legislature for final approval.

Previously Herbert said he hopes to get final approval from lawmakers and have Healthy Utah on the way to implementation before the 2015 Legislative session in January.