The legislature has approved — and Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert (R.) has signed — legislation that curtails the wish of state voters who, in November, approved a referendum expanding access to Medicaid to residents with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, in keeping with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare).

The legislation instead expands access only to individuals and families with incomes at the federal poverty level, which equates to some 80,000 people as opposed to 150,000 or so under the referendum.


The Utah House Chamber

The fly in the ointment, however, is that the state must get the Trump administration to grant a waiver from the Medicaid provision of Obamacare, which sets the threshold for federal funding at 138 percent of the poverty line, or about $17,000 for an individual and $35,000 for a family of four.

The Utah law seeks both the waiver and full federal funding as if it were covering up to 138 percent of the poverty level, not just 100 percent.

The Deep Red state had, prior to the initiative by voters, allowed Medicaid access only to those at 60 percent of the federal poverty line.

Gov. Herbert proclaimed the new law “balances Utah’s sense of compassion and frugality.”