THIS WEEK: Exchange Update & Coalition | Bill Tracker | New Navigator Partnerships | Medicaid Expansion Heats Up | ER Diversion Bill

Navigator Breakthrough?

The Utah Health Policy Project (UHPP) and its in-house consumer assistance program, Take Care Utah, are poised to launch exciting new partnerships related to the navigator functions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The outlook for such a statewide collaboration just got brighter with the state’s recent request to let the federal government operate Utah’s individual marketplace. As a result of this change, the federal government will be managing and funding Utah’s navigators, as Gov. Herbert suggested last week in his remarks to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).
Currently, Take Care Utah is partnering with the United Way of Salt Lake, 2-1-1, and other statewide organizations to help consumers find and keep affordable health care coverage. Although a final decision hasn’t been made, this coalition is well positioned as the logical hub for navigators operating around the federally-run individual marketplace. Look for more announcements on this process soon.
But UHPP/TCU also recognizes the importance of traditional brokers to Utah’s insurance marketplace. We’ve also become aware of a growing interest in the broker community to enroll clients in public programs like Medicaid and Medicare. So last week UHPP/TCU met with the leaders of Stone Hill National, Utah’s largest brokerage firm, which represents about 1,500 agents. To our mutual surprise, UHPP and Stone Hill share many goals when it comes to implementing the ACA. Because many Utah families could end up on both public and private insurance programs, TCU and Stone Hill agreed to look at linking our enrollment and navigation programs to provide better services to these families. Given the complexities of Utah’s future dual exchange system, this partnership between community-based navigators and traditional brokers only makes sense. This unique partnership builds on the recognition that low-income uninsured families might need public programs today—but down the road their income situation could (and should!) improve to the point where they will need private insurance. Or, some family members, like kids, may be eligible for CHIP, but the parents may have access to subsidized private insurance.
Why Navigators?
As anyone who has ever gone door-to-door selling magazines, popcorn, or Girl Scout cookies, knows that getting people to commit isn’t easy (with the possible exception of thin mint cookies). But at least people know what magazines and popcorn are for. So imagine if your task is to sell health insurance to people who never had it before. How would you explain co-pays, deductibles, or inpatient services? And how would you say it in Amharic one day, Spanish the next, and Bhutanese the week after that?
That is the task that will face Utah’s navigators when open enrollment begins on October 1, 2013. With an estimated 29 million people enrolling in a health insurance plan through marketplaces by 2019, the Affordable Care Act wisely foresaw the need for people to help the uninsured and underinsured “navigate” the new health insurance world. Many Utahns, especially the uninsured, are unfamiliar with the complexities of the health system, from online applications to multiple coverage options. In addition, 76% of Utah’s nearly 400,000 uninsured residents earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level. But with developing partnerships between UHPP/TCU, the United Way of Salt Lake, 2-1-1, and now Stone Hill National, Utah will be better prepared to meet this challenge.
If you want to know more about navigators, read this excellent overview by Community Catalyst, this FAQ by Families USA, or this paper by UHPP.

Bill Tracker: Week 3

UHPP is tracking over 20 health-related bills. Check out the updated Bill Tracker for the latest on details on what's happening on the Hill—from ACA nullification to charity care.

Read more here.

Turn Up the Heat on ME

Now is the time to speak to your senators and representatives about why expanding Medicaid is the smart decision for Utah. Use our 5 action steps and new reports.

Read more here.

Medicaid Expansion Press Conference Featuring Republican Leaders and Providers
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Time: TBD
Location: Utah State Capitol (exact location TBD)
Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Time: 8:00am
Location: Room 30, House Building
Note: This hearing should coincide with the release of the Medicaid Expansion study by PCG.
Please sign up with Debbie Benson by 3pm, February 15, at 801-538-1034 to provide your public input.
Utah’s 2013 Legislative Session:  January 28th – March 14th, 2013
Visit the legislature’s website to see the legislative schedule, and find bills and representatives and senators. Check out UHPP’s Bill Tracker for the latest details on over 20 pieces of health care legislation.        
Join us at the Capitol every Wednesday afternoon for these three strategy meetings in the Utah Capitol - Senate Building (East Side)
*Utahns for Medicaid Expansion (U4ME) (*New Time)
Wednesdays, 11:00-12:00pm
Location: Olmsted Room at the Capitol- Senate Building (East Side)
UHPP Coalition Meetings (U4ME)
Family Investment Coalition
Wednesdays, 12:00-1:00pm
Location: Olmsted Room at the Capitol- Senate Building (East Side)
Real Exchange Utah (RxUtah)
Wednesdays, 1:00-2:00pm
Location: Olmsted Room at the Capitol- Senate Building (East Side)
Note: Update about February 15th partnership exchange decision and changes in the GOED
Community Open Forum on Health Reform
Time: 2nd Thursdays of every month at 9:30am (NOT February 14th)
Location: TBD (watch for notice on UHPP’s website)
Issue: Stakeholder discussion and sounding board arranged by the governor’s Health Reform Implementation Coordinator, regarding Utah’s health exchanges (Avenue H) and ACA implementation
Take Care Utah Advisory Team
The first meeting of Take Care Utah’s new advisory team took place on Tuesday, February 5th at the Salt Lake City Fire Dept. Station #1 (211 South 500 East  SLC, UT 84111). If you would like to be a part of this exciting effort, email Randal Serr, or call him at (801) 433-2299 x4

How to Find a Hidden Bill
Can’t find a protected bill that everyone is talking about? Even an unnumbered, protected bill can be listed on the website—here’s how to find them.
1-Go to the bill search page on the legislative website
2-Select a category like “Health Care” from the scrollable “By Subject” list
3-Click the yellow “Find” button in the same row at right to display the results
4-Locate your bill by title and sponsor. For more details, contact the sponsor

No Emergency Here

Working one-on-one with stakeholder groups, Rep. Mike Kennedy continues to fine-tune his bill (HBXX: Medicaid Emergency Room and Primary Care Amendments) to promote diversion of nonemergency patients.

Read more here.

New Coalition Launched

About 60 people gathered at the State Capitol last Wednesday afternoon to form Real Exchange Utah (RXUtah), a new coalition to respond to Utah’s recent shift to a partnership exchange and to question what lies ahead for Utah.

Read more here.

Small Business Focus

Big questions remain about whether the feds will allow Utah to run a small business exchange, or if Utah can make even Avenue H minimally compliant with the Affordable Care Act.

Read more here

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