CMS to reject Utah's 'partial' Medicaid expansion

Utah sign
Utah is expanding its Medicaid program following voter approval. (Getty/AndreyKrav)

The Trump administration will reject Utah's request for a "partial" Medicaid expansion.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a version of the plan to serve as a "bridge" ahead of a full expansion, allowing Utah's Medicaid program to begin enrolling individuals April 1. Under this model, which was spurred by a ballot measure vote to expand the program, Utah would only expand its Medicaid program to people making 100% of poverty.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states can expand Medicaid to people making up to 138% of the federal poverty line. 

A CMS spokesperson told FierceHealthcare that while it remains committed to its goal of allowing states additional flexibility in Medicaid, it would reject plans that would limit expansion enrollment while requesting full Medicaid funding available from the government.

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"A number of states have asked CMS for permission to cover only a portion of the adult expansion group and still access the enhanced federal funding available through Obamacare. Unfortunately, this would invite continued reliance on a broken and unsustainable Obamacare system," the spokesperson said.

"While we have carefully considered these requests,  CMS will continue to only approve demonstrations that comply with the current policy," they said.

That CMS would reject the plan was first reported by The Washington Post. At the time the initial "bridge" waiver was approved, CMS Administrator Seema Verma praised the state and its Gov. Gary Hubert for crafting a plan that underscores "the continued importance of local innovation and control in Medicaid.”

Utah's plan also included work requirements, however, which the agency has promoted and approved extensively. In her statement, Verma highlighted the inclusion of work requirements as a way to "lift Utahns from poverty through community engagement."

State officials also confirmed the plan was dead, saying they are "deeply disappointed." Utah residents who enrolled in Medicaid through the partial expansion "bridge" will be able to keep their coverage as the state finds a new solution.