Utah bill expanding Medicaid coverage, requiring work, gets governor's OK

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation Tuesday to expand Medicaid to more than 70,000 poor residents in the state and add a work requirement.

But under the stipulations of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) must approve Utah's House Bill 472 in order for the law to take effect, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

ACA mandated that states expand Medicaid to cover people making up to 138 percent of the poverty line income, while HB472 calls for only a partial expansion: 100 percent of the poverty line, or an annual income of $12,140 per person.

Some lawmakers worry that this provision will hinder CMS’s approval of the expansion. In early March, the CMS declined Arkansas’ request to limit coverage for people making 100 percent of poverty incomes.

However, the CMS did approve Arkansas’ plan to require thousands of people on its Medicaid expansion program to work or volunteer, making Arkansas the third state allowed to impose such restrictions on health coverage.

In Utah, lawmakers like House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, believe that the state's request will look more appealing because Utah wants to grow Medicaid coverage.

Arkansas, the Utah lawmakers say, wants to limit coverage by changing the income threshold.  

HB472 will be subject to a 30-day public comment period and two public meetings before being formally submitted for request, Salt Lake City's FOX 13 reported.

Officials anticipate it will be six to nine months before CMS makes a decision. The bill must gather 113,000 signatures in order to make it on a November ballot.

Similarly, in West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill Tuesday that will impose work requirements for people receiving food stamps, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. Under the new stipulations, individuals between ages 18 and 49, without dependents, must work or volunteer for at least 20 hours a week in order to receive benefits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.