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Sign on to Utah Community Comments to Health + Human Services on the Essential Health Benefits Benchmark by 5:00 PM January 31, 2012


The deadline to submit comments to Health + Human Services (HHS) on the benchmarks and process for determining the new essential health benefits standard (EHB) is fast approaching. States will have tremendous flexibility in determining these standards. Each state will get to determine its own benchmark within certain limits, and starting in 2014, this benchmark will apply to all new plans in the individual and small group markets and to the Medicaid benchmark plan.

Did we get your attention? Knowing how busy you all are advocating on the hill, we thought we’d prepare a brief set of comments informed by Utah experience and market characteristics. Click here for the comments. If you would like to sign on, please send an email message to judi@healthpolicyproject.org  by 5:00 pm on January 31, 2012. In the subject field please write “Sign on to EHB Comments.” Feel free to adapt these comments or submit your own.


On Hold! Rep. Ray's HB247, Cost Sharing for Smokers Enrolled in Medicaid

Thanks to testimony from UHPP’s own Jason Cooke and pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Brinton, Rep Ray asked the House Government Operations Committee to hold pending the bill that would have increased Medicaid co-pays for people who smoke.  In its place Rep. Ray will file a new bill that will establish the ground work for a wellness program in Medicaid to help people quit using tobacco!

Read more here.



Utah Premium Partnership - A Utah Private Market Solution for Workers with Low Wages

Kudos to Rep. Dunnigan!  Utah Premium Partnership (UPP) simplification will be included in his Health System Reform Amendments bill (still in the drafting phase).  This important proposal will raise the UPP eligibility for adults to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) – the same as for kids.  Utah Premium Partnership is a Utah solution to helping workers with low-wages afford health insurance offered through their jobs.  Read more about UPP here.



Health Reform is Working Right Now! Takeaway from the Families USA Annual Conference

The Supreme Court decision about the Affordable Care Act is coming in June and there will be a lot of talk—and misinformation— about the health care law in the media.  Let’s take control of the discussion and educate our friends, neighbors, and colleagues about the law. Let people know about the parts of the law that can help them right now. When people experience the benefits of the law, it will be that much harder to repeal. We need to do our part to make sure that the law is correctly implemented.  Health care reform passed, but we need to ensure that our representatives know that we want the law as it was intended.  The health care law is for us, let’s make it be about us.

Read more here



Good News for Kids' Health!

School lunch just got healthier!  Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act signed into law by President Obama, kids are going to start seeing more fruits and vegetables in their school meals.  The new regulations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture help our kids become healthier by:
  • making sure students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week
  • increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods
  • offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
  • matching portion size to the age of the child being served
  • reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium
These new rules are a great step for a healthier America. 

Read more here

A Victory for Medicaid Reform! ... Now the Hard Work Toward Accountable Care Begins in Earnest

In a victory for Utahns who get their healthcare through Medicaid, the federal government rejected the state’s proposal to increase co-pays for adults enrolled in the program! The proposed co-pay increase from $3 to $5 was part of the Department of Health’s 1115 waiver request to implement Medicaid Reform (SB 180; 2011, Sen. Liljenquist).  The decision is also a victory for health providers who treat Utahns enrolled in Medicaid.

Read more here



Frustrated with the Legislative Website? Here's a Tip

Utah’s award winning legislative website isn’t winning any awards this year! Are you frustrated?  The site was privatized last year and things aren’t working.  Transparency is vital to the democratic process of the legislative session.  Report the problems you encounter to Drew at the Family Investment Coalition, drew@caputah.org or Lee Davidson at the Salt Lake Tribune ldavidson@sltrib.com.

Do you miss the Agendas at a Glance function?  You can access it now here:http://le.utah.gov/asp/interim/glance.html.



MyCase Third-Party Access: Live January 25th!

The “3rd Party” feature of myCase rolls out live on January 25th!  MyCase is an important tool.  It gives people real time access to their case information.  It also makes DWS and e-rep more transparent. This will help consumers will know just what information DWS needs from them and should mean less errors.  But, there are some real barriers for consumers when it comes to myCase.  Not everyone has access to computers, and those that do might not be “computer literate,” that is, they may find it hard or intimidating to use a computer to manage their case.  Because of these barriers, advocates asked DWS to build “3rd Party” access into myCase.

Read more here

Announcements

Speak Up for Building Blocks & Investments in Better Care for Medicaid Patients! 

We just learned that public testimony for Medicaid services is scheduled for the Social Services Appropriations (SSA) Subcommittee meeting on February 2nd at 8 AM (Room 30 House Bldg). A big shout out to Kris Fawson of Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities & Statewide Independent Living Council for her hard work and persistence on this—and to Sen. Christensen for getting it on the calendar. To make the most of this opportunity, now is the time to recruit folks and prepare BRIEF testimony—typically the SSA allows 1 or 2 minutes per person. Read this year's Hot Spots from UHPP’s perspective here

Utah's 2012 Legislative Session: January 23 - March 8, 2012

Visit the legislature’s website to see the legislative schedule, and find bills and representatives and senators.

Joint Utah Medicaid Partnership and Utahns For Sustainable Health Reform Meetings 

Join us at the Capitol for a joint UMP/U-SHARE meeting every Wednesday 1:15-2:00 in the Olmsted Room at the Capitol- Senate Building.

Getting to the Utah State Capitol

For maps, public transportation, and driving directions click here



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