You’d think a U.S. presidential administration would be interested in taking whatever steps necessary to protect Americans, but that hasn’t really proven to be the case when it comes to Donald Trump. Instead, during his first year in office, the belligerent businessman turned political leader rushed to try and get the Affordable Care Act repealed, dismissing the reports about the large numbers of people who would be kicked off their health coverage if he repealed the Obama-era defining health care law.
The president and his allies failed in their efforts; at first, that was thanks to the opposition of interests like the House Freedom Caucus, which claimed the bill to not be conservative enough, and then later on, it was thanks to the opposition of Republican Senators like John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins.
In the face of the president’s failure to repeal the ACA and replace it with a plan more to his liking, the state of Utah has now moved to expand its Medicaid program under the health care law. The state is currently among the smattering of jurisdictions around the country that have declined to expand their Medicaid program according to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
There’s one catch to the plan signed recently by Utah’s Republican Governor Gary Herbert. The plan he just signed off on is only a partial expansion of the state’s Medicaid program; whereas a standard state expansion of Medicaid under the ACA extends coverage to people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, the plan that Governor Herbert signed only extends coverage to those with incomes up to 100 percent of the federal poverty line.
The proposal could extend Medicaid coverage to about 70,000 people, but it first has to be approved by the Trump administration. Other states, including Arkansas, have sought to have similar provisions for their state Medicaid programs approved in the past, but they’ve not been successful, so it’s an open question whether or not the Trump administration will approve the Utah plan.
As CNN explains when it comes to how the program normally goes:
‘Under Obamacare, states that expand Medicaid agree to open the program to those earning up to 138% of the poverty level. The federal government covers at least 90% of the costs.’
One key difference between the Arkansas and Utah cases is that in the former, Arkansas was seeking to go from covering people with incomes at 138 of the federal poverty line to only covering people with the lower level of an income at 100 percent of the federal poverty line. Utah, on the other hand, is seeking to up the number of people its state Medicaid program covers, not lower it.
Changes to state Medicaid programs that the Trump administration has approved recently include the imposition of a work requirement.
In Arkansas, for instance, thanks to a green light from the Trump administration, Medicaid enrollees between the ages of 30 and 49 who are able-bodied and don’t have dependent children at home will have to start working in June if they want to stay in the program.
It’s worth noting that the Trump administration — or at least its head, Donald Trump — has certainly not proven averse to spending large sums of money in the past as would take place if the federal government went in with Utah on an expansion of Medicaid. One of the president’s most recent reported ideas to that effect is to have the military foot the bill for his long promised border wall.
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