A new interactive infographic from the Kaiser Family Foundation presents a comprehensive look at how the uninsured are expected to fare in each state this year after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) takes full effect.
The online tool features an interactive map that allows users to click on each state to obtain key data that break down the potential gains in coverage for the uninsured, the gaps in coverage and those who will not receive any financial assistance.
- 1) How many uninsured people will be eligible for Medicaid (including those newly eligible in states expanding Medicaid under the ACA and those – mostly children – eligible but unenrolled in states not expanding);
- How many uninsured will be eligible for tax credits to help them purchase coverage in the ACA Marketplaces;
- How many uninsured adults below the poverty level will be in the "coverage gap,” meaning they will not be eligible for Medicaid or for financial assistance to buy coverage because their state is not moving forward with the Medicaid expansion in 2014;
- How many uninsured will not benefit from the ACA’s financial assistance with coverage because they have income too high to qualify for tax credits or have employer coverage or are undocumented immigrants.
Janet Haebler MSN RN
State Government Affairs
American Nurses Association
8515 Georgia Ave, Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3492
Governors: How we got Obamacare to work
Here is an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about how Washington, Kentucky and Connecticut make Obamacare
What Might Medicaid Expansion Mean for Utah?
Written by Kathleen Kaufman, President, UNA
As nurses, you have the lived experience of what Medicaid expansion will mean for patients. With this appreciation, I hope you will read on. Let’s look at some background and actual figures.
What is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a healthcare program that provides health coverage for lower-income people, families and children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. It is jointly financed by states and the federal government.
Utah currently provides Medicaid or CHIP (healthcare specifically for children) coverage
• children in families with incomes up to 200% Federal Poverty Line or FPL ($38,180 for a family of 3);
• pregnant women up to 133% FPL ($25,390 for a family of 3);
• seniors and people with disabilities generally up to 100% FPL ($11,170 per person); and
• parents up to 44% FPL ($8,400 for a family of 3).
Full Medicaid coverage is not provided to childless adults at any income level. That includes NO income.
What does Medicaid expansion mean to Utah? In a state that values bottom-lines, this simply means that the federal government will return Utah’s tax money to Utah to pay for 100% of the patient care costs of expanding Medicaid for the first three years of the expansion. Over the next seven years, the federal government’s contribution will fall to a 90% coverage or "match” of costs. (Currently Utah enjoys a relatively high match of 70% of costs.) After the initial ten years, the match for newly eligible patients on Medicaid will stay at 90%.
((A brief explanation of projected funding matches in Utah: Those newly eligible for Medicaid (due to the expansion) will be matched by Federal government funds (our federal taxes) for 90% of care after 10 years while those who were formerly eligible but did not enroll in Medicaid before the expansion will have their care matched at 70% of costs. A group of young adults will move from CHIP to Medicaid under the expansion and their match will remain at 80% of care (as it currently is under CHIP.))
The state would need to cover administrative costs which are estimated to be $106 million from 2014 to 2024. (SLT 8-1-13).
When considering the impact of these potential administrative costs on the state system, also consider the impact on uninsured individuals. When simple adenomatous polyps, which could be removed by Medicaid-funded screening colonoscopies, develop into invasive cancers, which are undetected until they have metastasized, this costs the state and all citizens much more than administrative costs. This costs the care of patients in multi-system failure; this costs pain and suffering and loss of life. Avoiding the expansion of Medicaid does not save Utah money, it just lets our legislators off the hook of being responsive to the needs of the vulnerable poor.
The full Medicaid expansion will cover approximately 110,000 adults with good insurance. This expansion will bring as much as $300 million in economic benefits into Utah during the first three years of implementation (PGC report, pp. 91-92). In addition, coverage will include Medicaid-eligible patients who receive mental health or substance abuse care currently paid for by the state, as well as Medicaid-eligible prisoners who currently are being cared for at total state expense. Total savings to local and state governments from these inclusions would be nearly $30 million over the first three years (PCG Report p. 63).
Due to the incipient greater demand for care, this influx of funds will create 1000 to 2000 new jobs in Utah, most of them in the health care area. (PCG report, pp. 91-92). The ripple effect from these jobs will positively impact Utah’s economy. The basic effect will, in fact, create more nursing jobs.
What does this expanded Medicaid mean for the vulnerable poor of Utah? Instead of episodic "charity” care that deals with one isolated crisis at a time, true primary care including screenings will be possible for the new Medicaid recipients. Instead of endless, expensive emergency room visits there will be the possibility of a continuum of care at clinics or offices. This will require some serious re-education of patients, but that is possible once alternative care options are actually available. This also means that a significant number of low income workers can finally receive medical care before they are at death’s door.
What does this mean for you, the employed (and insured) professional nurses of Utah? The expansion means that you will care for fewer uninsured complex patients who have extensive late stage diseases. This means the care you give may actually save more lives, improving lives instead of simply buying time for patients who are too sick to recover.
This also means that the cost-shifting which routinely adds slightly more than $1000 to your insurance premium (Families USA) each year due to uncompensated care will significantly decrease. Will this also decrease the premiums? Under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will only be able to keep all the money they collect in premiums if they can prove that 85% of that money is used for direct care. With cost-shifting to privately insured patients no longer occurring, then premium costs should decrease.
In order to consider all aspects of a possible Medicaid expansion, our legislature asked for a study to be commissioned by the Utah Department of Health regarding the potential cost-benefit ratio of an expansion of Medicaid in Utah (4). Most of the statistics in this short article come from this extensive state-sponsored study. This study is now public and can be accessed at this
You may want to review the report.
During the recent general session, the legislators were of two minds regarding use of this study: the House passed a bill (HB 391) that would simply ban any expansion of Medicaid without looking at the study while the Senate amended the bill to say that expansion could not occur until the facts were all studied and digested. The Senate version of the bill added a couple other parameters as well, but left the decision to Governor Herbert once deliberations were done. Any additional administrative funding for the expansion would have to go through the legislature in the future. This was the final gist of Substitute HB 391 which did pass.
Utah can delay the decision to adopt the Medicaid expansion as long as the debate goes on, but a decision is needed by this coming autumn to begin implementation in 2014. The federal 100% match is only available for the calendar years of 2014 through 2016. The longer the state delays the expansion, the less money Utah gets. And Utah’s citizens who earn less than 138% of the federal poverty level ($11,900/year) will have NO coverage for health care -- aside from that occasional charity care for life-threatening episodes. Under the Affordable Care Act people in this income bracket (0 to 138% of FPL) will receive no tax subsidies for health insurance premiums since the ACA was written with the assumption that Medicaid would be the most cost-effective way to cover very low income individuals.
You care for patients who have had no insurance coverage. You see the poor health presented by these people who wait as long as possible before seeking care. Consider what their lives and the lives of their families must be like. Urge your legislators to seriously consider the cost-benefit ratio of expanding Medicaid despite probable administrative costs.
The Health Care Reform Taskforce which is working diligently over the interim between general sessions is also considering possibly expanding Medicaid for three years and then changing to a system that will be designed to suit the needs and desires of Utahns more than full Medicaid expansion. This possibility is being seriously considered. See the August 1, 2013 Salt Lake Tribune for more details:
Urge your legislators to consider the impact this will have on at least 110,000 Utahns. Sixty five percent of non-disabled current recipients of Medicaid work, often very long hours (UHPP). Yet they simply do not earn enough to buy health insurance at any level. These are not widgets on an assembly line, nor are they undeserving slackards. They are your neighbors; they could be your adult children. Ask Governor Herbert to expand Medicaid sooner rather than later.
There is no timeline until the Governor agrees to Medicaid expansion. If he does not expand Medicaid, there will be no route to sane medical coverage for a significant number of Utahns.
Contact the governor simply by googling "Governor Gary Herbert, Utah” and following the guidelines in his "contact” box in lower right corner. The URL for the governor is:
You can also leave a verbal message at the phone number listed in his contact information.
You may not know a lot about Medicaid if you are not directly involved in billing for care. I have attached a few references, courtesy of the Utah Health Policy Project to answer some basic questions about Medicaid.
Families USA (based on data from Milliman, Inc.),
Hidden Health Tax: Americans Pay a Premium
(Washington: Families USA,
2009), available online at
The Medicaid Expansion Option: Myths and Facts. (November 2012) Utah Health Policy Project Report, Salt Lake City, Utah.
PCG Report (State of Utah Medicaid Expansion Assessment: Utah Impact 2014-2023)
Please find PCG Report on Medicaid expansion at this link:
Dobner, J. (August 1, 2013). Governor’s group reports: How might Utah customize the Affordable Care Act? The Salt Lake Tribune, retrieved at:
Two additional references from UHPP on Medicaid for your review:
Medicaid 101 and the Medicaid Expansion in Utah
Medicaid Expansion: Myths and Facts