On March 14, the Utah legislature completed its 2013 session. Intermountain Healthcare Vice President and General Counsel Douglas Hammer provides this summary of major health-related decisions:
- Medicaid funding increases. The legislature passed a two-percent increase in per-member, per-month funding for Medicaid patients and included a small increase for the administration of Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations, which manage the program in Utah’s urban counties. The legislature’s final major budget bill includes more than $60 million in new federal and state funding for increased coverage of Medicaid recipients. Utah’s Children’s Health Insurance Program receives an additional $18 million in new federal and state funding.
- Utah continues to qualify for matching federal Medicaid funds. A bill passed to enable the state to continue its hospital Medicaid assessments for another three years. Under this program, the state levies an assessment on Utah hospitals to help meet the state’s share of Medicaid funding and obtain federal matching funds.
- The governor may expand Utah’s Medicaid program to meet recommendations in the federal Affordable Care Act. The legislature established a process to grant the governor this power. The bill requires the public release of a cost study by the Utah Department of Health and an analysis by the legislature’s Health Reform Task Force. If the governor chooses to expand state Medicaid rolls, funding must be approved by the legislature.
- Office of Inspector General is refined. The legislature passed a bill to clarify the role and scope of the Utah Office of Inspector General.
- University of Utah School of Medicine enrollment increases. A bill passed to increase funding for the University of Utah medical school to expand its enrollment. The bill funds 20 new medical students this fall and 20 additional new medical students in the fall of 2014. By 2014 the medical school will take in 122 new students each year, up from its current enrollment of 82, which will help train the additional physicians Utah will need in the future.
All these bills await the governor’s signature before they become law, except the inspector general bill, which has already been signed.
For more information on state and national political issues, sign up for Intermountain’s Health Policy Network by contacting Bill Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org