Health Care Compact Passes, but with Strings

SB208(1st sub), Health Care Compact (Sen. Adams), passed the session with a 45 for, 27 against vote in the House and a 17 for, 7 against vote in the Senate.  This bill has Utah join with other states in petitioning Congress to exempt the states from federal laws and regulations governing health care programs – including Medicare and the Affordable Care Act— leaving the states to make all decisions on using federal funds associated with those programs. 
UHPP estimates that the loss in Utah’s federal funds for Medicaid and Medicare alone would total $350 million in 2014, and more than $8 billion by 2020.  The bright spot in this picture is that Congress would have to give the states permission to enact the Compact and have the health care programs block granted, and Utah’s version of the Compact legislation will automatically expire in 2014 unless it is renewed. 
Thanks to UHPP-led efforts, the bill also requires that Utah carefully study the implications of joining the compact by Jan 1, 2013 and develop criteria to guide the state in any negotiations to implement the Compact.  These are the issues to be studied:

  • the impact of the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act
  • whether Utah is likely to be required to implement any part of the Affordable Care Act prior to negotiating the compact with the federal government, such as Medicaid expansion in 2014
  • whether the compact's current funding formula, based on adjusted 2010 state expenditures, is the best formula for Utah and other state compact members to use for establishing the block grants from the federal government
  • whether the compact's calculation of current year inflation adjustment factor, without consideration of the regional medical inflation rate in the current year, is adequate to protect the state from increased costs associated with administering a state based Medicaid and a state based Medicare program
  • whether the state has the flexibility it needs under the compact to implement and fund state based initiatives, or whether the compact requires uniformity across member states that does not benefit Utah
  • whether the state has the option under the compact to refuse to take over the federal Medicare program
  • whether a state based Medicare program would provide better benefits to the elderly and disabled citizens of the state than a federally run Medicare program
  • whether the state has the infrastructure necessary to implement and administer a state based Medicare program
  • whether the compact appropriately delegates policy decisions between the legislative and executive branches of government regarding the development and implementation of the compact with other states and the federal government
  • the impact on public health activities, including communicable disease surveillance and epidemiology.

Read the full amended and then substituted bill here:
Watch the video here:
Where do we go from here?
We will be sending out an alert with talking points and instructions to help pursue a Governor veto.  So far the feedback from the Governor’s office is not encouraging, so we need your help.  Seniors were instrumental for our successful efforts to amend the Compact bill. Based on this experience, it is our sense that if the Governor can be moved to veto the Compact, like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, it will be because seniors all around the state are saying: don’t touch my Medicare benefits!


Looking Forward: 2012 Session Wrap-Up 

Utah’s 2012 Legislative Session came to a close Thursday, March 8 at midnight.  We had some health policy wins and some losses, but overall it was a good session.  Thank you to each and every one of you who lent a hand, whether by testifying, spreading the word, or calling your representative.  UHPP offers a look at the main issues, links below.






The Affordable Chocolate Act Turns 2: How Sweet It Is!
Join us to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the Affordable Care Act and the end of the 2012 Legislative Session!
When: Friday, March 23, 2012 5:30-8:00 PM
Where: Hatch Family Chocolates
               376 E. 8th Avenue, Suite A
               Salt Lake City
RSVP: NOW to reserve tickets (space is limited). Send email to  
This is an evening not to be missed!  For more information click here.
This exciting event features…

  • Tapas, designer chocolates, wine, and fun with friends and health policy change-makers
  • Jazz trio!
  • Reflection on results from the 2012 Session and lessons for ACA implementation in Utah
  • Hear from storybank contributors about how the reforms already in effect have helped them take charge of their health
  • Silent auction (bring your checkbook!)

Please join us in thanking Steve Hatch and Katie Masterson of Hatch Family Chocolates for generously hosting this event.  

HB144: The Affordable Care Act Turns 2 on March 23rd (Come to UHPP's Party)...and the Supreme Court Considers Arguments for and Against

March 26 is the first day the Supreme Court of the United States will hear challenges and defenses of federal health reform law—the Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed in 2010.  The Court has scheduled 6 hours over 3 days to hear the oral arguments.  It’s been 56 years since the Supreme Court has heard this many hours of argument on a case! 

Read more here

You Can Give Input on New Member-Driven Nonprofit Cooperative Health Plan for Utah

A quiet corner of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1322) created “nonprofit health insurance issuers.” These cooperative “Consumer Operated + Oriented Health Plans” (CO-OPs) will be sold as qualified health plans through the state insurance exchanges coming in 2014.

Read more here.

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