July 8, 2015

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Healthy Utah Plan Gives Six Times More Value per Dollar than Utah Cares, Report States

Press Release

July 8, 2015

Salt Lake City—According to a newly released economic analysis conducted by Notalys, Expanding Utah’s Health Insurance Options, and commissioned by AARP Utah, Voices for Utah’s Children, and the Utah Health Policy Project, “The Healthy Utah plan not only brings in three times the benefits to the state, it does so at significantly lower costs.”  Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect, citizens from every state have been taxed to fund the implementation of the ACA regardless if the state has chosen to expand Medicaid.
The new report examines the economic benefits and risks of two alternative proposals to Medicaid expansion. At the end of the 2015 legislative session the Senate and House, along with the Governor, passed HCR12 which created a committee made up of Governor Herbert, Lt. Governor Cox, President Niederhauser, Speaker Hughes, House Majority Leader Dunnigan, and Senator Shiozawa. This committee was charged with figuring out a coverage gap solution by the self-imposed deadline of July 31st, 2015. The Senate passed SB 164S01, or Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan, and the House of Representatives passed HB 446S03, the Utah Cares plan. The intent of the committee is to analyze these two pieces of legislation to formulate a solution. These two plans are compared in the report for their economic benefits and risks.
The analysis concludes that, “Healthy Utah generates far greater benefits at a much lower cost. Our quantitative projections suggest that over the next two years, Healthy Utah has an economic rate of return six times that of Utah Cares.”
Because Utah has not expanded Medicaid under ACA, childless adults with incomes less than 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and  parents with incomes between 45‐100% of the FPL fall into a coverage gap, ineligible for both Medicaid and the subsidized healthcare coverage that is offered to wealthier citizens.  Under Healthy Utah, people in the coverage gap would receive government funds to buy insurance through their employers or the Avenue H exchange.
According to the report, “The primary benefit of both the Utah Cares plan and the Healthy Utah plan is that more individuals will be covered by health insurance, with Healthy Utah more amply covering catastrophic and specialty care.  Because Healthy Utah covers more people than Utah Cares, from a pure health perspective, this is reason enough to adopt Healthy Utah.
The report also points out the opportunity cost of continuing to do nothing: “Uninsured Utahns continue to face severe economic stress. Health care is fragmented. Broken families and social problems such as crime and substance abuse continue.”
The analysis was completed by Sven E. Wilson, PhD, chief economist for Notalys.  Wilson is also a professor of Public Policy at Brigham Young University and a research economist at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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